Category Archives: Imperialism
Net-Exploitation by the Numbers (Hypothetically)
RAIM often talks about Amerikan and First World workers as net-exploiters.
In order to discuss this further, we must first define exploitation. For our purposes, exploitation can be roughly defined as earning through work less than the full product of that work. For instance, a person might work for a day, make 10 widgets; yet only earn in wages enough to purchase six widgets. This would be exploitation.
The modern economy is arranged globally. A minority of First World countries exploit at gunpoint the Third World. Subsets of workers with vastly different functions, wage-levels and standards of living exist. Only in such a situation could a worker be a net-exploiter.
Hypothetically speaking, in today’s capitalist-imperialist economy, we might see a situation where two different workers each create 10 widgets, or 20 total. The first worker, from the First World, might earn enough wages to purchase 11 widgets whereas the latter worker, from the Third World, only one. Through the extreme exploitation of the Third World worker, the First World worker receives wages over and above what they actually created. In this situation, the First World worker gets a small ‘cut,’ the equivalent of one widget, from the 9 widgets produced by the Third World worker yet not included in the latter’s wages. In other words, the First World worker is a net-exploiter.
First World workers are net-exploiters: a class which through its relation to the capitalist-imperialist system lives in great part upon the exploitation of the Third World.
In India, Forests Grow with Naxalite People’s War
A new report has stunned and embarrassed imperialism and Indian compradors: forests are growing in tribal areas controlled by Naxalites, India’s Maoist-inspired revolutionaries. Some of the districts in which the Naxalites are based, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, have seen remarkable greening, leading to a marginal net gain of forests throughout India. Though it has received little media attention, the news came shortly before world leaders met in Copenhagen, purportedly to discuss curbing global climate change.
Naxalites claim they are fighting for the economic and social rights of India’s poorest. Their social base is the country’s peasants, forest-dwelling peoples and, to a lesser extend, the urban poor and sections of the intelligentsia. The Naxalite movement began as a peasant insurrection in 1967 against the ruling ‘Communist’ Party of India in West Bengal. It was led by leftist opposition within the Party, influenced by Maoism, then at its revolutionary height during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Today, Naxalites operate in over one-third of Indian and are organized into a number of groups. They claim to be carrying out a people’s war: leading guerrilla offensives against government forces, building independent bases of power and providing greatly-needed social reforms in areas under their control. Naxal base areas are said to be rich in iron, coal, bauxite, gold, uranium, magnesium and diamonds. Mining Companies are reluctant to enter these areas and it has been reported the investors have been scared away in areas where the Naxal presence has increased.
The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has called Naxalism the country’s greatest internal security threat. In September of 2009, the Indian state launched Operation Green Hunt, a two-year military offensive against the Naxalite movement involving over 100,000 troops. Since 2005, the Indian state has funded anti-Naxal militias. The Indian media has also launched a public relations offensive against the revolutionaries. The Naxals are often called criminals and murderers. Rather than fighting for social welfare, the Indian state claims the Naxals seek political power.
For their part, the Naxals openly state they desire political power, saying they cannot reasonably implement necessary social changes without it. They say they have been pushed to this position from decades of exploitation and state violence and claim their own violence is defensive, aimed at compradors, government forces and other enemies of the people. It is estimated that 42 percent of Indians currently live under the international poverty line of $1.25/day (PPP).
Imperialism has nothing to offer but its own wretched self-preservation. The comprador Indian state has been adamant. India’s poor will suffer deepened and widened exploitation, continued division and sale of communal lands, the building of more ‘Special Economic Zones’ and the militarism necessary to enforce these measures. At the same time, in Copenhagen, imperialists haggle over who’s going to profit from the devastating climate change they acknowledge they’re creating.
Imperialism breeds resistance. The Indian Naxalites are fighting for a system which operates around the needs of people, not capital accumulation. It should be of no surprise that areas under their influence have seen growth in forest coverings. Revolutionary struggle and social change, as the Naxalites are attempting carrying out in swaths of India, are the only real solutions to global climate change.
Blackwater runs hi-tech dirty war in Pakistan
A recent investigation has uncovered a convergence of drone attacks, assassinations, ‘snatch and grab’ operations and intelligence gathering, launched from inside Pakistan and coordinated in part by the two private companies, Xe Services and Total Intelligence Solutions, formerly associated with the private security contractor, Blackwater.
In a recent article for the Nation magazine, journalist Jeremy Scahill exposed a web of covert dirty-war tactics involving Blackwater, the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) and the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). According to multiple well-placed sources, the military contractor, Xe, as well as a spin-off company, Total Intelligence Solutions (TSI), are providing intelligence for, planning and even carrying out drone bombings, kidnappings and assassinations. “The program puts Blackwater at the epicenter of a US military operation within the borders of a nation against which the US has not declared war,” Scahill says.
As Scahill’s investigation reveals, Blackwater secretly operates in Pakistan mainly through “rolling, no-bid contracts” with the JSOC. Unlike the CIA, which must gain congressional approval for covert operations, the JSOC, and hence Blackwater, does not. According to one of Scahill’s sources, the program through which Blackwater is involved is “so ‘compartmentalized’ that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.”
According to the unnamed sources, Blackwater’s existences runs parallel to and is given cover by a CIA operation in the country. According to the report, many of the recent drone attacks with high civilian death tolls, thought to be carried out by the CIA, were coordinated by Xe and TSI. Of the known drone attacks in Pakistan between January of 2006 and April of 2009, 687 civilians have been killed. More worrisome, the Blackwater outfit in Karachi is said to help plan JSOC covert operations in neighboring Uzbekistan. Additionally, Blackwater is working for the Pakistani government on a subcontract basis, putting it “on the ground with Pakistani forces in counter-terrorism operations, including house raids and border interdictions.”
For months in Pakistan, rumors have swirled that Blackwater was carrying out operations in the country. Blackwater, Washington and the Pakistani state have all denied this is the case.
In 2001, the Pakistani military-state was an early supporter of Amerika’s crusade against ‘terrorism.’ This alienated the vast Pakistani masses, for whom radical Islam’s message of singling out the ‘Great Satan’ has since resonated. In 2006, a deal was struck between Washington and Islamabad which allowed the JSOC to operate in country under the conditions that if discovered the Pakistani state would deny giving permission and condemn the US for violating its sovereignty. The CIA and Blackwater is working behind-the-scenes to support the Pakistani state, which many analysts say could collapse, leaving a vast array of armaments, including nuclear weapons, into unknown hands.
The current government, led by President Asif Ali Zardari and traditionally-oppositional Pakistani People’s Party(PPP), came to power during the 2008 general elections. Unfortunately, the change of political actors has done little to alter the social conditions on the ground. Military supremacy in the country and US covert operations go on and the still-impoverished Pakistani masses rightly continue to view the state with great skepticism and disdain. Though the current PPP-led, civilian government may not have knowledge of Blackwater’s involvement, it doesn’t matter. The PPP, Pakistan’s ruling ‘center-left’ party, has become a foil for imperialism in the region while providing no social reforms, save neo-liberal ones, for the vast masses. Abandoning anti-imperialism and national salvation altogether, the secular ‘social democrats’ represented by the PPP are becoming understandably hated by the masses of Pakistan.
While Blackwater and the CIA are using Central Asia and elsewhere as their playground and the PPP and Western liberals offer cover to imperialism, the masses of the world are lining up against comprador regimes and the imperialist First World. Real revolutionaries are anti-imperialists. The struggle for a new world will not be carried through by becoming part of the system, as the effete PPP has proven, but by leading the movement against imperialism and its agents.
We want to smash this world and build a new one. Today, the median global income stands around $2.50 a day. Over 1 billion people face chronic hunger and a child dies every five seconds of starvation. This same situation is killing the planet at an unprecedented rate. Meanwhile, a global minority lives in comfort, unconcerned with their effect on the world. We aim to change this.
We understand that there is a causal relationship between wealth on one hand and poverty on the other. On a global level, the First World is rich because it exploits the impoverished majority, the Third World. This global divide, called imperialism, is the principal feature of the world today.
We side with the Third World masses and support their struggles for liberation. Exploiters are not going to hand over freedom to those they exploit. Only through struggle can the oppressed free themselves. We support the right of resistance- and revolution- for oppressed peoples against their oppressors. We support unity of the Third World masses against imperialism.
We reject First Worldism: politics which panders to or assumes that First Worlders are a social base for revolution. The “masses” of the First World are a global minority: a petty-exploiter class which regularly supports the imperialist system from which it benefits. Global revolution demands a just and egalitarian distribution of the world’s resources and wealth. Thus, over the course of global revolution, First Worlders will receive less, not more.
We are John Browns, staunch First World allies of the Third World. We are few and far between and behind enemy lines; there is little direct effect we can have. We consider our circumstances and focus on areas where we can effectively contribute to the revolutionary struggle.
We openly represent revolutionary anti-imperialism and work to build public opinion for Third World liberation struggles. We interject revolutionary, anti-imperialist politics into political arenas such as speaking events and protests; contribute to publishing and distributing revolutionary literature such as the RAIM Global Digest; and conduct group education through study collectives, practical tasks and informal discussion. We seek out and educate those who can be won over to consistent anti-imperialist politics.
We encourage direct participation and involvement, promote personal development and push people to become more valuable to the larger, global revolutionary movement. In part, RAIM is a ‘university of revolution.’ Through direct involvement with RAIM, we encourage people to become more proficient both politically and technically. A large part of RAIM’s purpose is to make individuals more of an asset to the Third World majority.
We encourage Third World-oriented, revolutionary political work. Though RAIM fills a roll by providing a public presence for and entry-level work into revolutionary politics, it is not the end-all-be-all of revolutionary political work. We encourage and support revolutionary, Third World-oriented politics being applied as part of different types of projects and efforts.
-Adopted by RAIM-Denver and RAIM-Seattle, November 23rd, 2009
Review: Arun Gupta Asks, “What Anti-War Movement” (presented by Democracy Now!, September 24th, 2009)
A year after Barack Obama’s presidential election and with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still raging (and spreading into Pakistan), many within anti-war circles are engaged in dialogue about which way the movement should go. A large part of the problem faced by anti-war activists is that their once relatively large movement is now far smaller and less vibrant. Much focus has been given as to why this is. Many of those still dedicated to the anti-war cause are now taking a critical look at the movement’s preceeding years, attempting to find lessons which can help them recover from a major slump in organizing and mass action.
One such activist is Arun Gupta, editor of the New York City ‘left’-oriented newspaper, the Indypendent. In a speech presented by Democracy Now!, another nominally left media outlet, Arun Gupta attempts to answer some of the hows and whys of the death of the anti-war movement and offers prescriptions for future organizing.
Talking about his background, Gupta says he cut his political teeth as part of solidarity activism for the South African anti-apartheid movement and Latin American struggles. In explaining thoughts at the time about wider radical organizing, Gupta states, “there’s always been this notion that the left would re-found itself into a mass base movement if we only had some sort of imperialist war that we could oppose, something on the scale of Vietnam; that this would radicalize the population enough and it would show the true face of imperialism.” Gupta begins by noting how this never came to fruition.
Gupta on the death of the Amerikan anti-war movement
In attempting to answer why a mass, radical anti-war movement never came into being, Gupta reflects on one of the main US anti-war organizations, United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ). Gupta rightly pegs UFPJ as a shill for the war-mongering Democratic Party, something most remaining Amerikan anti-war activists are aware of. Citing mostly anecdotes and quotes, Gupta describes UFPJ’s role inside the anti-war movement as one of shepherding activists towards the reformist morass of mainstream electoral politics.
After the Democratic Party gained a congressional majority in 2006, UFPJ supporters, including Gupta, were advocating a ‘power of the purse strategy,” urging Democrats to use their federal budgeting power to cut funding to the war. Gupta says the leader of UFPJ, Judith LeBlanc, characterized that strategy, reformist as is was, as being “on the outside shaking our fists,” and told supporters that the way forward was working within the Democratic Party. Gupta also notes how long-time ‘leftists’ such as Carl Davidson, who campaigned for Barack Obama, hailed his presidential victory as a milestone for “class struggle.” According to Gupta, UFPJ and leaders such as Carl Davidson are why the anti-war movement collapsed.
Gupta also says there was a failure on the part of the “great hope” that was the “direct action left,” “anti-globalization movement,” “anarchists,” “student-led groups” and “some of the parties” [most likely referring to the ‘Party for Socialism and Liberation’ and ‘Workers World Party’]. Though there was a lot of talk between these groups about reforming and refocusing on anti-war work, he states, “nothing has really come from it.” He dwells little on why this is and fails to examine the politics of any of these groups. Instead, he still thinks they could potentially come together to form a “new, radical, principled anti-war movement.” According to Gupta, because it isn’t happening, UFPJ still maintains power in the passive, anti-war movement which now supports Obama.
Where Gupta gets it wrong
While UFPJ and Carl Davidson helped lead the anti-war movement’s shift towards support for the Democratic Party, Gupta adds no analysis or understandings beyond this. His answer of why the anti-war movement never coalesced into a mass-radical movement is shallow, bordering on conspiratorial. Thus, Gupta misses the point entirely.
From the beginning, the anti-war movement was a largely anti-Bush movement, a domestic reaction to the brash, John Wayne-esque brand of imperialism. There was almost none, if any, focused internationalism coming from the largely pro-Amerika movement. Almost all internationalist actions and slogans were by accident, as parts of the anti-war movement took up anti-militarist causes: one memorable example being when Portland ‘anarchists’ burnt an effigy of a US troop while chanting “Bye bye G.I., in Iraq you’re gonna die.” It is important to note this example was a fringe rejected by the mainstream of Amerikan anti-war sentiment. Moreover, the ‘anarchists’ undertook the action based on liberal anti-militarism, never bridging over towards a long-term, principled stand with the world’s oppressed against imperialism.
One meme to come out of the anti-war movement was that Bush had turned world opinion against the US. Another was that “peace is patriotic.” Hardly internationalist or radical slogans, the anti-war movement peddled the mythology of historic Amerikan greatness and a false picture international fraternity. It actually saw itself as trying to improve Amerika’s image worldwide. More contrived was the anti-war movement’s talk about how the wars are supposedly against the interests of Amerikans. Moaning about ‘our’ wasted tax money was common throughout the anti-war movement. The obvious problem with this is that imperialism, which Amerikans do benefit from, requires imperialist wars. Amerika’s wealth is and always has been based on the oppression of other peoples. Amerikans intuitively understand this and most never joined the anti-war movement.
Into 2005, as the war dragged on, and with Bush’s incompetence and instability in Iraq dominating attention, more Amerikans began seeing the wars as becoming overly costly and offering less in the way of long term returns, even describing them as a burden to Amerika’s interests. However, this is not an anti-imperialist view. Afterall, even ardent imperialists, such as Obama, have described the Iraq war in this light.
In the end, UFPJ didn’t simply act as a pied piper, marching the anti-war movement to grave of the Democratic Party. UFPJ is simply on the same page with those nominally opposed to the war. While Gupta thinks there is mass, radical potential within First World, UFPJ has a better understanding of where most Amerikans stand on. Thus, groups like UFPJ are able to maintain leadership of the anti-war movement despite the appearance of a seemingly radical fringe. The anti-war movement’s shift towards Obama was a natural one, not principally engineered by UFPJ.
Gupta, under mistaken notions about Amerika and the anti-war movement, says that the way forward is building a mass “anti-imperialist” movement.
From the beginning, Gupta defines imperialism in a metaphysical, abstract way. According the Gupta, capitalist-imperialism is “the defining if not dominant inter-state relation and flows of power in the world today.” Gupta points to the Iraq war as an example of Western imperialism’s attempt to secure Mideast oil against gains by the lesser imperialist bloc of Russian and China. While this is true to an extent, Gupta misses the point.
Capitalist-imperialism, today’s “flow of power,” is the process of capital accumulation on a global scale: it is the exploitation of the global majority, the Third World masses, to the effect of benefitting and buying-off virtually all of the First World. A primary feature of the current capitalist-imperialist system is vast global inequality between the exploiter First World and the exploited Third World.
Gupta is also wrong to say that imperialism is the “defining inter-state relations.” In actuality, states are propped up over the course of class struggle to enforce class rule. With few exceptions, Third World states are extentions of imperialism, surrogates to the process of capital accumulation. Also, while divisions between the imperialists of different countries exist, they are rarely a principal feature. What is significant about the Iraq war is not possible ambitions to wedge out lesser imperialist forces, but rather a multi-national, U.S.-led force invaded and occupied to country to secure a greater stake in oil reserves against the interests of the Iraqi and Third World masses.
Throughout his speech, Gupta never does come to terms what imperialism really is. Rather than stating the obvious– First Worlders enjoy greater rates of consumption, more leisure time, little repression, are visibly better off than most of the world’s people and thus have little reason to radicalize or become anti-imperialists– Gupta uses a ridiculous abstraction, “consensual hegemony,” to explain why First Worlders support the imperialist system. Gupta simply refuses to approach reality: the First World masses support imperialism because it supports them.
Because of this, Gupta’s “anti-imperialism” remains hollow. Not based on serious analysis, Gupta posits an “anti-imperialism” which almost anyone can embrace. Gupta’s “anti-imperialism” changes nothing in terms of practical implications for those who do uphold it. In this case, “anti-imperialism” is an abstract tag-on phrase, a meaningless slogan, for ultimately First Worldist, movementarian politics. Gupta is not concerned with doing a serious study of imperialism, including coming to terms with its consequences. For Gupta, his goal has always been to organize Amerikans.
The magic key theory
According to Gupta, there is a magic key that can unlock a radical potential in Amerikans. First Gupta thought it would be an imperialist war. Then he decides that supporting UFPJ and doing ‘independent’ journalism would somehow radicalize Amerikan masses. Now Gupta calls for “principled anti-imperialism” as part of his latest attempt to inspire a radical idealism into Amerikans. Gupta’s calls for “anti-imperialism,” like his calls for other moralistic positions, will fall on deaf ears as long as he sees Amerikans and the First World as a social base for radical, progressive change.
Because Gupta is a proponent of the magic key theory, his critique of other groups are petty. He claims that the more radical sectors of the anti-war movement never really confronted the state. He says that the anti-war movement was really never able to break free from the limitations of the state, and thus was never able to expand as a radical movement. But what does this mean and is it true? Just in Denver, for example, anti-war graffiti popped up. Khristopher Kolumbus and other statues have been vandalized multiple times. During the DNC, a protest led by a black bloc took the streets and marched downtown. Denver has solidarity networks for prisoners and victims of police brutality and active chapters of Copwatch. Most recently, a nominal anarchist has been accused by the pigs of breaking windows at the Democratic Party Headquarters.
What does Gupta think was missing? “A golden opportunity was missed in the counter-recruitment movement,” he says. Surely, counter-recruitment was another one of Gupta’s magic keys: another one that didn’t work supposedly because the “left” wasn’t turning hard enough.
Like Gupta’s “anti-imperialism,” his prescribed necessity to confront state power is abstract. Besides his counter-recruitment spiel, Gupta never defines “confronting state power.” He doesn’t give other examples, historic or modern. “Confronting state power,” for Gupta, is another movementarian fantasy, speculatively postulated in a way that ignores the real social and material basis of mass apathy and reaction-ism in Amerika.
Gupta’s “anti-imperialism” is not anti-imperialism at all. Instead, Gupta’s politics is one of chauvinism wrapped in loosely-construed, “anti-imperialist” slogans.
As a matter of narrowness and “left” Amerikan exceptionalism, Gupta never once mentions resistance efforts on the part of oppressed peoples in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Third World. Gupta, now a self-described “anti-imperialist,” not once mentions those exploited by imperialism in the Third World! Instead he focuses solely on the “radical potential” of the largely defunct anti-war movement in the First World. We ask, how can this possibly be anti-imperialism?
Gupta uses his privilege and broadcasts a phoney “anti-imperialism,” objectively to the disservice of real anti-imperialism. Those in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Third World, for whom anti-imperialist struggles are often ones of life and death, do not have the luxury to freely and openly broadcast their ideas and experiences on their common struggle against imperialism. Instead, this is a luxury for Gupta, who not only speaks the colonizer’s language but has the privilege of doing so without repression. Does he take this privilege seriously? No. For Gupta, “anti-imperialism” is another phrase, liberally thrown around to see if Amerikans bite. Without a second thought, he uses his membership of the world’s richest 15% to broadcast an effective lie, that Amerikans are friends of the Third World, calling it “anti-imperialism.” Again, we ask, what is Gupta doing besides objectively blunting real anti-imperialism worldwide?
The difference between Gupta and ourselves is obvious. Gupta conceives of unity between the Third and First World masses where none meaningfully exists; he insists that Amerikans are potentially revolutionary when they clearly are not. Thus, his politics will always be implicitly pro-Amerikan and not representative of the immediate interest of the world’s people.
Real anti-imperialism, the politics of the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement, derives its strength from and seeks to inspire the global masses, the 80% of the people in the Third World for whom resistance is a way of life. Real anti-imperialists see Amerikans for what they are– class enemies of the Third World masses– and understand this: imperialism will only come crashing down through the advancements of the struggle by Third World peoples for liberation.
While Gupta is wasting time trying to radicalize Amerikans, the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) is engaged in real strategies for real revolutionary change. Whereas “anti-imperialism” is just a buzzword for Gupta and First Worldists, RAIM understands that imperialism is the crux of world dynamics and proceeds from there. A hallmark of RAIM’s strategy is accounting for limitations imposed on us by the fact that Amerikans support imperialism and using our privilege to develop real aid in the revolutionary struggle.
We don’t water down genuine anti-imperialist politics to pander to First Worlders. Above all, RAIM speaks the truth and says it loud and clear: First Worlders maintain their decadent lifestyles via imperialism; are class enemies of the real masses in the Third World; the complicit ‘Volk’ in a murderous global empire; and must be overthrown along with imperialism. We openly represents anti-imperialist politics and broadcast our analysis to a global audience, using our own privilege to do so, even if most Amerikans don’t like or ‘get’ it.
First World mass movements come and go, along with most of its participants. Rather than trying to build an “anti-imperialist” mass movement in the First World, RAIM is a politically sophisticated and technically versatile one, with the aim of best serving the Third World masses and their struggle. We want dedicated, determined comrades who are all in for the long haul. RAIM broadcasts a consistent message of anti-imperialist solidarity globally and is a focal point of revolutionary agitation, education and political development within the belly of the beast, Amerika. Through RAIM, we seek out and educate those few First Worlders who can be best won over the consistent anti-imperialist politics. Through RAIM, we develop both politically and technically, becoming more of an asset to the revolutionary struggle.
RAIM is important as a national network which openly represents anti-imperialist politics, but it should be seen for what it is: an appendage to the vast Third World struggle; our collective effort to contribute to this larger revolutionary movement. RAIM’s message is huge, too big for RAIM alone. We encourage constant political and technical development, specialization and the application of Third World-oriented, revolutionary politics to different types and forms of work. We support those who support the movement of the exploited Third World against the imperialist First.
Arun Gupta and RAIM represent two very different types of “anti-imperialism.” Gupta’s is one of magic keys and preeminent, potentially ‘radical’ First World ‘masses.’ He brings little new to the table. His explanations of everything from why the anti-war movement collapsed to what is imperialism seem shallow or abstract. His analysis is neither real anti-imperialism nor a strategy for revolutionary change.
Nearing the end of his speech, after talking for thirty minutes, in the typical manner of First Worldist intellectuals, asking how to build a genuine, radical mass movement, Gupta says it’s something he’s thought about a lot about, but doesn’t have any real answers for. Typical.
RAIM posits an anti-imperialism that is new, that explains things in a way Gupta can’t. Our anti-imperialism is groundbreaking and changes the focus and look revolutionary political work for those in the First World.
RAIM won’t lead a revolutionary mass movement, nor do we intend to. Nevertheless, we still have a positive role to play in the global revolutionary struggle. By working together, representing and broadcasting a consistent anti-imperialist message, operating as a school to our own and others’ political and technical development and promoting Third World-oriented, revolutionary unity, we can act as agents of global revolutionary change in a way that First Worldists such as Gupta can’t.
The difference is simple. Gupta is First Worlder who’s into nominally-‘leftist’ mass movements. RAIM? The name says it all.
[Video of Gupta’s speech can be found here: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2009/9/24/arun_gupta_asks_where_is_the_anti_war_movement%5D
Water and imperialism
Water is essential, in various ways, to all human activity. Water is something that humans, literally, cannot do without. Every human needs water in order live and to have a good life. Societies need water in order to be provide for the survival of their populations. Usable water, as a resource, is finite and distributed unevenly across the planet. Most societies have difficulty providing water to their populations, especially in the Third World. The inability to access water is referred to as the water crisis. The water crisis results in terrible human costs every year. And, as usable water becomes less and less available in the future, the brunt of the water crisis will befall Third World populations. The writings of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, social theorist and architect of the Bolshevik revolution, have framed discussions of imperialism and global poverty. Famously, it was Vladamir Illich Lenin who predicted cycles of world wars as the powerful nations vied for the dwindling resources of the poorer nations. In the twenty-first century, there is increasing conflict over water. Lack of usable water will be a source of great instability.
Capitalist imperialism plays a role in the crisis. And, it is the Third World that suffers from these water wars and social instability. As activist and author Arundhati Roy states, “Empire does not always appear in the form of cruise missiles and tanks, as it has in Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam. It appears in their lives in very local avatars-losing their jobs, being sent unpayable electricity bills, having their water supply cut, being evicted from their homes and uprooted from their land. It is a process of relentless impoverishment with which the poor are historically familiar. What Empire does is further entrench and exacerbate already existing inequalities.”(1)
The effects of the water crisis are wide ranging. According to secretary-general of the United Nations at the time, Kofi Annan, “One person in six lives without regular access to safe drinking water; over twice that number—2.4 billion—lack access to adequate sanitation.” (2) Each year more than five million people die from water-related disease. (3) The World Health Organization states that 1.8 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and sanitation. (4)
1.2 billion people have no sanitation facilities at all. 2.5 billion lack decent sanitation.(5) Fecal matter causes the majority of illnesses in the world. At any given time, half of the poor of the developing world are ill due to water supply, sanitation and hygiene. The biggest cause of infection is poor sanitation, usually related to water. (6)
In addition, agriculture and the water crisis are connected. Firstly, the water crisis is a significant factor in the world food crisis. Poor agricultural techniques waste water. And, overall, if agriculture remains on the same path, it will produce less and less relative to the growing human population. According to one source, “Irrigation-fed agriculture provides 45 percent of the world’s food supplies, and without it, we could not feed our planet’s population of six billion people.” According to the influential head of environmental research institute Worldwatch, Lester Brown, believes that water scarcity is now “the single biggest threat to global food security” (7) Much of the current irrigation is stressed, using more groundwater reserves than can be sustained. (8) As access diminishes, overuse of current water supplies results in increased pollution and environmental damage. This, in turn, diminishes water resources. Thus, the water crisis is also a significant factor in the world food crisis.
Population growth will especially compound the problems in water and agriculture. A third of the world’s population live in “water stressed” countries currently. (9) This number will only increase in the coming years. “Population and economic growth across Asia and the rest of the developing world is a major factor driving fresh-water scarcity. The Earth’s human population is predicted to rise from 6 billion to about 9 billion by 2050, the UN reports. Feeding them will mean more irrigation for crops.” (10) Feeding an increased population will mean more water.
This full brunt of the water crisis is suffered by the Third World. Access to water varies greatly from place to place. Looking at the distribution of access to water from one place to another shows that First World has more access than the Third World. This is exactly what one would expect. Privilege in one area accompanies privileges in other areas. Those with high incomes, those in the First World, have access to food, shelter, water, and other goods required for the good life.
The median income globally is about US $ 912.50 (US $ 2.50 per day). There are 2.5 billion people living on less than US $730 a year (US $ 2 per day). By contrast, the median yearly income of a household in the United States was $46,326 in 2006. (11) The average person requires 5 gallons of water per day to survive. The average American uses 100 to 176 gallons of water a day. An average African family consumes roughly 5 gallons a day. (12) There are 2.9 billion without decent sanitation. (13) Those without access to drinking water are not in the First World.
The wealth and power of the imperialist nations translates into the ability to control access to water in the weaker nations. Imperialist nations use water as just another commodity, and they are not above brandishing their control of such a commodity for political ends. This has only increased with the rush toward globalization.
Water is increasingly playing a role in imperialist schemes against the Third World. For example, one contention between the Palestinians and Israelis is the mountain aquifer underneath the West Bank. The Israeli state and settlers have dominated the groundwater supplies. Palestinians are charged three times more for water than Israelis. (14) Under International Law, Israel is required to provide drinking water to Palestinians. Israel is not allowed to deny it to them. (15) Yet increasing costs is one way to wage war against the Palestinians using water instead of bullets. By controlling water, its distribution and cost, the Israelis and their American allies are able to wield power over the Palestinians. Control over water means control over agriculture and food supplies, it means control over sanitation, and control over human life.
The water crisis also threatens to play a role in the reversal of Zimbabwe’s land reform movement. One consequence of the land reform movement in Zimbabwe has been an increase in water problems. Land in Zimbabwe had been controlled by Europeans, reducing the African population to pauperism. Mugabe’s land reform redistributed the land back to the majority African population. One unintended consequence of the land reform was that the new land owners proved unable to maintain the water systems and irrigation dams.
These problems can be manipulated by political forces. (16) The ex-land owners, those who had benefited from the old imperialist and white supremacist system in Zimbabwe, have a vested interest in a water crisis because they stand to benefit. Such a crisis could be exploited politically to oust Mugabe and return themselves to power. These forces are backed by powerful Western allies who seek to reduce Zimbabwe to the status of a colony. (17)
The one example with a happy ending is the conflict in Bolivia. A water conflict in Bolivia also set an imperial power against a poorer people. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. (18) Seventy percent of its population live in poverty. Ten percent of children die before age five. Bolivia’s economy was wrecked by hyper-inflation in the 1980s. A small ruling elite dominated Bolivian society. Sixty percent of the population is indigenous. Those of European background have historically had more privileges than the poorer and indigenous segments of the population. In Bolivia in 1999, Cochabamba auctioned its water supply in order to increase services. The water system was purchased by Aguas Del Tunari, a part of Bechtel, a large American corporation. As part of the purchase, the company was guaranteed a 15 to 17% rate of profit. After taking over the water system, Aguas del Tunari raised the water rates, some as high as 300%. (19) This sparked massive protests that lasted two months. The protesters accused the company of “leasing the rain” as they clashed with the Bolivian military. Hundreds were arrested and a seventeen year-old boy was shot and killed. Journalist Luis Bredow describes the revolt: “Everyone was protesting, everyone…I’ve never seen anything like it in Bolivia. Housewives were throwing stones at the police. It really was a revolt.”
The water conflict intersected with traditional nationalist sentiment. These clashes nearly collapsed the government of Bolivia. The sale of the water resources had to be withdrawn.
The view that water is a commodity like any other has led to disaster in the Third World. According to Vandana Shiva:
“At the core of the market solution to pollution is the assumption that water exists in unlimited supply. The idea that markets can mitigate pollution by facilitating increased allocation fails to recognize that water diversion to one area comes at the cost of water scarcity elsewhere.
In contrast to the corporate theorists who promote market solutions to pollution, grassroots organizations call for political and ecological solutions. Communities fighting high-tech industrial pollution have proposed the Community Environmental Bill of Rights, which includes rights to clean industry; to safety from harmful exposure; to prevention; to knowledge; to participation; to protection and enforcement; to compensation; and to cleanup. All of these rights are basic elements of a water democracy in which the right to clean water is protected for all citizens. Markets can guarantee none of these rights.”
Furthermore,“Market assumptions are blind to the ecological limits set by the water cycle and the economic limits set by poverty. Over-exploitation of water and disruption of the water cycle create absolute scarcity that markets cannot substitute with other commodities. The assumption of substitution is in fact central to logic of commodification. “ (20)
The problem of water crisis can be solved in principle. According to one source, 97.5 percent of the Earth’s water resources are salty. Of the remaining water, only a single percent is available for humans. “Even this tiny proportion, however, would be enough for humans to live on Earth if the water cycle was properly functioning and if we managed our water use wisely.” (21)
However, the nature of capitalism is to view every resource, from labor to water, as a commodity. The water crisis cannot be solved on a global scale until there is a change in social relations globally. It cannot be solve under the current system of capitalism because the very nature of capitalism itself is to put a price on resources, to eliminate the commons. This being the case, it is likely that solutions will not be put in place for a very long time. And, in the meantime, this translates into increased conflicts, even wars over diminishing access to water.
The reason that the water crisis won’t be solved in the short term is that imperialists have an interest in perpetuating the crisis. Capitalist imperialism is a system organized around profit, not human need. As long as there is profit to be made by “leasing the rain” or using the water crisis to destabilize political enemies, then the policy makers of the powerful nations will not act to solve the water crisis. It will be up to the oppressed nations to solve the water conflicts themselves as was done in Bolivia.
1. Roy, Arundhati. People vs. Empire. In These Times magazine. January 2005.
2. Hillary Mayell UN Highlights World Water Crisis for National Geographic News. June 5, 2003.
3. Pacific Institute, Dirty Water: Estimated Deaths from Water-Related Diseases 2000-2020. 2002.
5 UNICEF/WHO. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation. 2008.
6. Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). 2008. A Guide to Investigating One of the Biggest Scandals of the Last 50 Years.
7. Africa’s Potential Water Wars. BBC News. 1999. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/454926.stm
8. World Water Crisis Underlies World Food Crisis. Environmental News Service. 2008. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2008/2008-08-18-01.asp
9.The World Water Crisis. http://www.worldwaterday.net/index.cfm?objectid=E39A970B-F1F6-6035-B9F75093B863ED13
10. Wallace, Scott. Is water becoming ‘the new oil’? Christian Science Monitor. 2008. http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2008/05/29/is-water-becoming-‘the-new-oil’/
11. US Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/
12. UN Water. Tackling a Global Crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008. 2008.
13. UN Water. Tackling a Global Crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008. 2008.
14. Ofori-Amoah, Abigail. Water Wars and International Conflict. 2004. http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/OFORIAA/
15. Water war leaves Palestinians thirsty. BBS News. June 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2982730.stm
16. Maoist-Third Worldists denounce imperialist meddling in Zimbabwe. http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/maoist-third-worldists-denounce-imperialist-meddling-in-zimbabwe/
17. Banda, Ignatius. Poverty: Water Wars Hit Rural Zimbabwe. IPS. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44294
18. Bolivia Country Report. CIA World Fact Book. 2008. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bl.html
19. Joseph, Richard. The Water War in Bolivia. Counterpunch. March 26/7, 2005. http://www.counterpunch.org/joseph03262005.html
20. Vandana Shiva. Water Wars. South End Press. 2002. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Vandana_Shiva/Water_Wars_VShiva.html
21. World Water Crisis Underlies World Food Crisis. Environmental News Service. 2008. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2008/2008-08-18-01.asp
The long-awaited sequel to Fuck The Troops is finally here:
Yum! Brands PR Department Launches World Hunger Relief Campaign, Doesn’t Really Care
Last September, U.S.-based Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company and parent of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s and A&W fast food chains, launched its annual World Hunger Relief campaign. Touted as part of a commitment to ending global hunger, this new campaign provides a sense of charity and progressiveness the Yum!’s true purpose, making money by selling over-valued, though inexpensive junk food to people in the First World
The money raised will go to the UN’s World Food Programme. Founded in 1963, the WFP has thus far failed in providing a solution to hunger or ending its root causes. Today, though hunger is growing and with it malnourishment and starvation, the WFP itself claims to be under funded. Yum! cites this as a reason why its World Hunger Relief campaign is “even more crucial this year.”
At face value, Yum!’s concern for world hunger is a farce. In 2007 and 2008, Yum! says its raised $36 million for the self described cash-strapped WFP. Yum! continues by patting itself on the back for pledging to raise at least $80 million over the next five years, or $2 million less each year.
Rather than ending the causes of hunger, Yum! Brands and the UN World Food Programme mitigate it through pittances. Both admit it in round about ways. “Every U.S. dollar raised will provide four meals for hungry children,” Yum! states. In reality, meal rations will not end hunger because hunger today has structural causes.
Instead of tractors being sent to the poor farmers in Africa, they are sent to Israel to tear down Palestinian homes or to other countries to build “Special Economic Zones,” sweatshop compounds, on former farm lands. Whilst 1 billion people live in chronic hunger and a child dies of starvation every five seconds, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are never short on food for First World consumers. A global relationship is at play here, imperialism, which is the root cause of hunger today.
Companies such as Yum! make money by selling over-valued, yet inexpensive convenience food to exploiters. They couldn’t run their business without the massive profits brought into the First World from the Third, resulting in widespread poverty. Likewise, the U.N. and the World Food Programme are institutions set up and lorded over by imperialists to preserve current class structure, not dissolve it.
The WFP nearly goes so far to admit this. According to WFP, chronic hunger leads to social and political instability, that is, instability to the social and political structures which maintain a state of poverty and looming hunger for most of the world’s people. Thus, the WFP’s implicit position is to mitigate instability through food rations, while providing no long term solution to the causes of poverty and hunger. Yum! Brand’s slogan for their own campaign is moving millions “from hunger to hope.”
For the Third World masses, those who regularly find themselves victim of preventable hunger, such “hope” is illusionary and short lived. While Yum! claims it has helped save the lives of 4 million people “in remote corners of the world,” the real effect has been keeping 4 million people dependent on constant food aid. In fact, despite the publicized ‘concern’ of image-conscious corporations such as Yum! Brands, hunger created by imperialism is increasing. Instead of finding a real solution to world hunger, such food aid programs hold back real solutions while keeping oppressed peoples passive and dependent.
Liberation from global poverty will not come via charity from those who create and benefit from it. Solutions capable of ending hunger will only arise as a direct affront to such self-congratulatory tactics of ‘benevolent’ corporations and their obese, petty-exploiter customers. An end to global poverty and hunger means economies and development directed by the vast majority to meet their own needs, not controlled and leeched upon by the imperialist First World.
Denver Protests Ongoing Imperialist Wars
October 7 was the 8th anniversary of the start of the current war in Afghanistan by the United States. A number of national groups in the remaining U.S. anti-war movement called for actions. Locally the Denver Anti-War Network (DAWN) called for a march many months ago, and it kicked off this day. Many activists gathered for two separate events in Denver on October 7th, a march against the Afghanistan war, and a “Justice and Peace Jamboree” right after the march.
About 50 people mobilized for a rally and march that started at the Denver Federal Courthouse downtown. A rally was held there for an hour. A street theater was held about the situation in Afghanistan. The crowd consisted of nominal anti-imperialists, anarchists, national liberation supporters, and anti-police brutality activists, along with RAIM members and supporters. As it was a broad-based march against the war in Afghanistan, there were many who advocated First Worldist, pro-Amerika politics. RAIM provided many anti-imperialist, anti-Amerika, anti-troop, and pro-Third World signs and slogans to promote our politics. After the rally the march then set down 16th Street mall. It was small in comparison to previous anti-war rallies, but was spirited and opted for more charged slogans. “Number One Terrorist, U.S. Imperialists” were chanted by a large majority of the protesters for much of the march. The protest itself stayed on message, the notable interject of the so-called health care debate in the march was a sign brought by a RAIM comrade: “The Real Health Care Crisis- Amerikan Imperialism.”
Protesters addressed multiple issues in their slogans. “From Iraq to Palestine, Occupation is a Crime” and “No Justice, No Peace, Control the Police” was chanted by the crowd. The march ended at a military recruitment office along the way. Visual images of the victims of the war were going to be displayed, for some truth in advertising in military recruitment, but was prevented by the pigs who were already there blocking the recruitment entrance.
For the small size of the march, the police presence was large. The federal police at the courthouse put cameras in front of and photographed protesters, and generally intimidated those expressing free speech rights. Before stepping off, a speaker noted one local cop who was involved in a brutality case against a citizen. He called the pig, who is black, a “twisted uncle tom” through a megaphone. Along the march anti-police brutality activist Shareef Aleem noted the large amount of pigs who followed the peaceful march. The police repression locally was also brought up, as well as the recent piggery against activists in Pittsburgh who were protesting at the G-20 meetings. Everywhere along the march route Denver pigs were there to meet us.
The after-event, the Justice and Peace Jamboree, was held at a local restaurant and music venue, the Mercury Cafe, and was attended by over 70 people. It was quite diverse, featuring a moving play about the Israeli settler state entitled Seven Jewish Children; interesting poetry by local poet Lenny C, hip hop by local group the Golden Soldiers; and speeches by local activists for a number of causes and organizations. Denver RAIM member, Hector, gave a short, powerful speech which highlighted the fact the it’s not Bush or Obama that’s the problem, it’s Amerika. Several RAIM supporters picked up the latest issue of the RAIM Global Digest and we got a chance to meet and get our message out to new people.
The numbers at this march and rally were expectedly small, as it was one of the first anti-war actions under the Obama adminstration. On the other-hand, Obamamania has pulled some of the most reformist, pro-Amerika elements out of the anti-war movement, leaving the more radical sectors. This was evident in Denver, as more moderate activists were absent at this march, leaving space for anti-imperialist slogans and direction.
Nationally the remnants of the anti-war movement called for protests around this anniversary date as Obama escalates war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Earlier in a march in Washington DC the corporate media reported almost 100 arrests at the marches there. It remains to be seen where the anti-war movement will go in the U.S. under Obama.
In the end, marches and protests of 40 people or 40,000, even with anti-imperialist slogans, will not end the war. Revolutionary Anti-Imperialists know occupied peoples can only be truly liberated through their own accord. However, as allies of the oppressed Third World masses in the First World, one thing we can do is build public opinion in favor of their struggle. For those who truly desire change, there is little reason to reach out to the middle ground, water-down our message and pander to a progressive Amerikan majority that doesn’t exist. For revolutionary anti-imperialists, our message to Denver’s anti-war movement is clear: true change will only come through an end to imperialism, through a revolution of the world’s oppressed people against First World imperialism and Amerika; those who really support real change must support the Third World struggle and the defeat of Amerika.
Afghan Locals Give U.S. Occupiers Proper Goodbye
On Saturday, October 3rd hundreds of insurgents stormed two remote military bases near the Pakistan border in Afghanistan. A proper goodbye– the attack killed eight occupiers from Fort Carson and injured many more as they were preparing to relocate from rural outposts to larger bases in more populated areas as part of a revised strategy by NATO war-planners.
This attack comes as the U.S. NATO Commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, urges President Barack Obama to add 40,000 more Amerikan occupation troops on top of the 68,000 already there or en route. In a speech in London on October 1st, McChrystal acknowledged that the NATO occupiers are unpopular and advocated a “counter-insurgency” as opposed to “counter-terrorist” strategy, saying the latter was too narrow and would mean allowing Afghanistan to become “Chaos-istan.”
In reality, the U.S. and NATO are fighting a losing war: one of occupation waged by imperialists. Recent emphasis has been placed on training Afghan military and police forces to carry out the duties of the occupiers. However, the militarily imposed Afghan puppet government is also highly unpopular, as demonstrated by evidence of widespread fraud in the country’s recent elections. Saturday’s attacks were directed both at foreign occupation forces and those of the comprador state. U.S. military officials described the insurgents as members of “tribal militias,” a code word for fighters who receive support from the common Afghan rural masses.
Those occupiers killed in Saturday’s attack did not die heroically or with honor. Rather, they were killed as part of resistance by the Afghan people to foreign occupiers and a puppet regime. Rather than dying for abstract ideas such as “freedom,” the eight troops from Colorado Springs died for just the opposite reason: depriving Afghans of their freedom by enforcing imperialist rule.
Amerikan troops serve the interest of imperialism; therefore, they are rightly hated everywhere people are oppressed and exploited by imperialism. Unlike in Colorado Springs and the U.S., in Afghanistan there will be no mourning for these eight fallen Amerikans. For the Afghan masses, they are simply eight more dead occupiers.
Every September, hundreds of thousands of Uzbek children begin two months of forced labor in the country’s cotton fields. Receiving almost nothing in wages and acting in accordance with state mandate, schools are closed and children become virtual slaves as the harvest season rolls in.
In the fields, children as young as seven are forced to meet extreme quotas with little opportunities for rest. Conditions are described as squalid and food inadequate. They earn a few pennies per kilo of cotton and wage deductions are made for transportation and food costs. At the end of the harvest season they are left exhausted and often in poor health. Teachers are conscripted into becoming overseers and also work in the fields in order to meet production quotas. Children make up only about half of the harvest season labor force and farmers, forced to grow the export crop, have it little better. As one Uzbek farmer describes it, “being a cotton farmer here is like hanging between life and death. The government controls our lives very tightly. If we don’t obey, we’ll end up in trouble. All we want is freedom. And the state is punishing us for wanting freedom.”
Uzbekistan’s state-administered cotton industry has also taken its toll on the environment. With the heavy irrigation demands for the cash crop, the Aral Sea, once a climate modifying feature in the region, is at 15% of its former volume. As a result, salinity has multiplied, killing 24 species of native fish and wiping out Uzbekistan’s commercial fishing industry. The cotton fields themselves have been overirrigated and suffer from high levels of soil salinity and erosion. Cotton monoculture has left Uzbekistan’s formerly prosperous lands increasingly infertile, sometimes to the point of abandonment. The heavy use of pesticides has compounded the environmental problem, leading to increased rates of birth defects and genetic mutations.
Uzbekistan is the world’s second largest exporter of cotton, shipping 800,000 metric tons overseas. The comprador Uzbek state maintains a monopoly on the export of cotton. With a barely paid, seasonally captive workforce, much of the income from the cotton is not used in future development projects or as part of social welfare programs but instead props up a small parasitic elite which make up the Third World regime. The cotton which is not exported is sent to Uzbekistan’s small domestic textile industry, made up of joint ventures between the Uzbek state and foreign investors.
According to Steve Trent, Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Foundation, “We have witnessed the forced use of children in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields and seen the conditions they work in. At the same time we have seen how a small, corrupt, ruling elite denies these facts and continues to be the main beneficiary of the cash the child labor earns Uzbekistan.” While forced child labor is undoubtedly a regular feature in the country’s cotton industry, Trent and the Environmental Justice Foundation are missing the larger picture.
Most of Uzbeck’s cotton is exported. The Uzbek state actually sells the cotton at 85% of the global market price and 43% of it is sent to Asian textile mills. There young adults, often women, endure conditions which are scarcely better than that of the common Uzbek. Produced under similar conditions of comprador capitalism, the final product is then exported to imperialist countries where it enters consumer markets. While various Third World puppet regimes may reap some of the benefits of vast pools of virtually captive people, most of it is passed along.
After cotton is harvested and spun into textiles under brutal conditions of comprador capitalism, the finished goods finally enter First World consumer markets. There, First World business realizes massive profits from simply selling the products of Third World labor to First World consumers. Also, First World workers benefit: their high wages enable them to purchase vast quantities of goods, something that would not be possible without the super exploitation of Third World workers. In the grand scheme of things, the Uzbek state is a minor player. It is the imperialist First World which is the main culprit: through its exploitative workings of global scale, it demands cheap commodities produced under conditions of virtual slavery.
Those who benefit from Uzbek forced child labor, the Uzbek comprador elite and the First World, are a global minority. In contrast, the Uzbek masses are part of a larger majority, the vast Third World masses. According the the Environmental Justice Foundation, 250 million children around the world are compelled to work, presumably in commodity exchange industries. Adding to this are the world’s exploited adults, those languishing in vast urban slums and subsistence communities under constant threat of being kicked off the land. Together, the vast Third World masses pose a serious threat to the system: they carry great potential and a historical responsibility.
Today, the most long term solution to the problem of forced child labor is an end to the system which demands it, capitalist-imperialism. Organized along their combined interest, those currently at the bottom of the global order are key to destroying it and building anew. By organizing those who have nothing to lose, Uzbek children and farmers, Chinese factory workers and the vast Third World masses, around a radical program of class war and liberation, and by supporting each others’ struggles against the imperialist system, peoples everywhere can find freedom.
The struggle to build a new world can only take place alongside advances of the oppressed over the course of class warfare. Only through a revolutionary movement of the Third World masses will children everywhere have a future of peace, freedom, prosperity and equality.
Amerikan E-Waste Poisons Chinese
E-waste increasingly flows from the U.S. to the Third World. E-waste is made up of computers, cell phones, and other electronics that have been thrown away. For example, Amerikans throw out 133,000 computers a day and 100 million cell phones a year. Electronics contain harmful, toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chlorides. These materials are known to cause cancer, brain damage, kidney disease, etc. This toxic e-waste is the fastest growing part of the municipal waste stream in the U.S.
How does e-waste get from point a to point b? There are dozens of corporations that are contracted to dispose of e-waste. One such company is Executive Recycling out of Englewood, Colorado. Executive Recycling promotes itself as an eco-friendly corporation, sponsoring Earth Day events and a “Go Green” campaign in Colorado, for example. They are a corporation that is contracted to dispose of e-waste in an environmentally safe manner. The Executive Recycling web page even warns of the dangers to Amerikans that e-waste poses: “Here in Colorado, residential customers are not governed by law to recycle electronics; however by putting these items in the trash we are causing a larger issue, as these items leach mercury, lead, and other hazardous elements into our drinking water.”
So, how does Executive Recycling keep Amerikans safe from toxic e-waste? Rather than expose Amerikans to their own hazardous trash, Executive Recycling dumps it on Chinese. A recent story by the news journal 60 Minutes documents how toxic materials are shipped by Executive Recycling, and other First World recycling companies, from Amerika to destinations in China.
One destination is Guiyu, China. It is a city with a growing population, where peasants have come after being driven off the land. The ex-peasants breakdown and burn old computers and other electronics. They earn a few dollars a day dealing with highly toxic materials without protective equipment. They report that their lungs burn and they have trouble breathing. Their skin is damaged with scars and burns. The local water has become undrinkable. Drinking water has to be trucked in. Guiyu has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Seven out of ten children have too much lead in their blood. Miscarriages are six times more likely there.
The Amerikan high-tech lifestyle produces poisons that are forced upon the impoverished peoples of the Third World. Not only do Third World peoples slave away in factories producing consumer goods for Amerikans for pennies an hour, Third World peoples also have to recycle Amerikans’ toxic trash. Capitalist-imperialism poisons Third World peoples in order to maintain the Amerikan way of life. This is yet another example of how the First World lives on the backs of the Third World, exporting the cost of its lifestyle to the majority of the world’s people.
Amerikans have help in poisoning the Chinese population. The Chinese state turns a blind eye. In the 1970’s, Chinese self-determination and independent socialist development was replaced with brutal comprador capitalism. Today, the Chinese state sells the labor and health of its people to imperialism in order to make a buck. The First World and its Third World lackeys will continue to ruin the lives of Third World peoples until imperialism is defeated, until Third World peoples seize control of their own destinies.
Obama: more troops, more imperialism, more of the same
The election of Barack Obama as president was promised as bringing a different direction to U.S. foreign policy. But as recent news shows, Obama will continue U.S. imperialist policies, for one by increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In the beginning of his term this year he kept on Bush family crony Robert M. Gates as Secretary of “Defense.” Gates announced recently the Amerikan military will increase the number of overall troops in service for these new imperialist wars. Contributing to this increase are the Amerikan people, looking for jobs in the faltering economy, taking on military positions.
On Monday July 20 “Defense” Secretary Gates announced a “temporary” increase of the size of the army up to 22,000 troops. This increase is to meet the “persistent pace” of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Gates (1).
The increase is to occur over three years. In the end, the size of the army will increase to 569,000 active duty soldiers. Previously, in 2007, Gates had given a goal of an expansion to 547,000 soldiers. This previous target was reached in May.
There are currently 130,000 Amerikan troops in Iraq, not including mercenaries and contractors. Also, by the end of 2009, there will be 68,000 troops in Afghanistan. Obama’s promised removal of troops from Iraq has been carried out at a snail’s pace, at best. This removal is really a shift, or “phased redeployment,” of more troops from Iraq into Afghanistan. Obama is not pulling back Amerikan Empire, so much as shifting its focus. In fact, only combat forces will be withdrawn from Iraq by August 2010, and other troops will be scheduled to remain at least until December 2011 (2). Most withdrawals are not even scheduled until March 2010. In fact there have been no troop withdrawals since Obama came into office. In addition, Gates expressed concern that future U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have enough boots on the ground. Military advisors and senators are advocating more troops be sent to Afghanistan than originally planned (3).
Some have pointed to some of Obama’s policies, like the defunding of the F-22 fighter program, as a sign of Obama’s dovish credentials. However, the defunding of this single program happened in the larger context of increasing the size of the military, including increasing funding for other fighter jets (4).
Obama, Another Side of the Coin
Despite what Amerikan pseudo-leftists say, to the world’s majority it does not matter who would have become U.S. president. The United Snakes continues its tradition of militaristic policies. All Obama changed was perception. Amerikan public opinion tired of the war in Iraq not for any principled anti-imperialist reasons but because the war was becoming too costly; in Amerikan money, Amerikan lives, and to Amerika’s global image. This last one was a key, for under Bush world opinion of the U.S. was lower than at any point in history. The jingoistic superpatriotism represented by McCain-Palin carried less appeal as the U.S. was being wound down in the resistance in Iraq. Obama came along to shift world opinion of Amerika to a more positive view. Amerikans also felt better in their relationship to the world under Obama, even though there has been no change to the foreign policies that enrich all Amerikans. With a more positive world opinion, Amerikans are more willing now to embrace Amerikan imperialism, even joining its military to defend it.
Reasons For the Increase of Volunteer Troops
The New York Times also notes that the Pentagon, without the aid of conscription, will increase the size of its army by traditional means of recruiting and retention. Since the advent of the all-volunteer armed forces over 30 years ago the military has relied on recruiting to fill its ranks. Most have to be actively recruited.
The Iraq War made military service during a sustained military conflict unpopular. The military could no longer count on those enlisting for easy college money or signing bonuses, obtained without leaving their bases and incurring risk (5). Even the National Guard, with less commitment, suffered unmet recruiting goals (6). Recruiters talked about having “rolled doughnuts,” slang for going an entire month without recruiting anyone.
Also, antiwar activists, dealing with an all-volunteer army, took on the strategy of counter-recruitment to symbolically hurt the war effort. It met with mixed success in deterring some young people from the military (7), with many students removing their names from military recruiting lists that schools are required to give (8). Military recruiters became more aggressive in their efforts. But the recent recession has helped enlistment and re-enlistment.
In mentioning Gates’ proposed increase of troops this year, the New York Times also mentions that recruitment has been aided by those looking for a job in the recession, and troops reenlisting beyond their scheduled terms due to the job market. Another source says military recruitment was up 9 percent from 2008, and potential soldiers are including not only those out of high school but those with bachelors and master degrees, looking for a steady paycheck without fears of layoffs (9).
Overall, the opposition to the Iraq War in the U.S. increased not because of any principled opposition to its military committing atrocities for profit, but because it was seen as too costly and unwinnable for Amerikans. Even with the global recession Amerikans are still better off than the great majority of the world. They still willingly join its military to further imperialist aggression in order to objectively keep their privileged position in the world.
The U.S. is the principal global empire. It must assert itself militarily around the globe. To do this, it needs warm bodies for its never ending military adventures. Since 1900 the U.S. has continuously engaged in military confrontations of some kind or other nearly every year since. This will continue to be the case for the next hundred years, or until U.S. imperialism is defeated.
Domestic opposition will not stop aggression against the Third World. The liberal anti-war movement came to a halt with the end of the Bush administration. Most in the anti-war movement swallowed Obama’s lies. Progressives in the U.S. are deluding themselves if they still think the Obama administration will initiate major changes in U.S. foreign policy.
The masses of the Third World are also deluded, if they buy into Obama’s reinvention of Amerika. After all, recent polls show that Obama has improved the image of the U.S. in the Third World. The reality is that Obama and Bush are just two sides of the same imperialist coin. Given the promise of a paycheck Amerikans in their self-interest will help in the effort to expand the war machine. Amerikans have a material interest in maintaining imperialism. They are the ones who benefit, after all. The masses of the world should not rely on opposition inside Amerika to stop imperialist wars. If imperialism is to be smashed, then it will be the Third World masses who wield the hammer. If First-Worlders support humanity they will side with the Third World masses in this endeavor.
(1). Bumiller, Elizabeth. “Gates Says U.S. Army’s Size Will Grow by 22,000.” New York Times. July 20, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/world/21military.html
(2). “With Pledges to Troops and Iraqis, Obama Details Pullout.” New York Times. February 27, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/28/washington/28troops.html
(3) Bumiller, Elizabeth. “With Boots in Iraq, Minds Drift to Afghanistan.” New York Times. July 31, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/world/middleeast/01memo.html
(4). Drew, Christopher. “Obama Wins Crucial Senate Vote on F-22.” New York Times. July 21, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/business/22defense.html
(5). Davey, Monica. “Recruiters Try New Tactics to Sell Wartime Army.” New York Times. June 14. 2004. p. 1, 8.
(6). Moniz, Dave. “For Guard Recruiter, a Tough Sell.” USA Today. www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-03-07-recruits-cover_x.htm. Accessed 3/8/2005.
(7). Some examples of earlier counter-recruitment strategies are here: Weill-Greenberg, Elizabeth. “Calling All Soldiers: Military Recruiters Face Resistance From Young Anti-War Activists.” New York Amsterdam News. February 24, 2005. Accessed from www.commondreams.org 3/8/2005; and Hampson, Rick. “‘Counter-recruiters’ Shadowing the Military.” USA Today. www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-03-07-counter-recruiters_x.htm. Accessed 3/8/2005.
(8). “Students Want Off Recruiting Lists.” Toward Freedom. November 16, 2005. http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/667/78/ Accessed 11/21/2005.
(9). “Slumping Economy Helping With Military Recruitment.” http://www.wjactv.com/news/20277281/detail.html
1,013 Afghan Civilians Killed in First Half of 2009
A U.N. mission has reported that 1,013 civilians have been killed in combat in Afghanistan during the first half of the year, up 24% from the same period in 2008. Civilian deaths have not been restricted to Afghanistan. On January 23rd, less than three days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama ordered a drone attack into Pakistan which locals say killed three civilians.
Much of the world has been bamboozled by the Obama presidency. However, the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan are finding out that Obama is just another imperialist butcher. They likely won’t be the last as the Obama administration continues to redirect the “War on Terror.” The people of the Third World will not take such aggression lying down. This past July was the bloodiest month for occupation forces in Afghanistan since the start of the October 2001 invasion.
Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a Hollywood action movie packed with CGI-enhanced martial arts; explosions; sci-fi hi-tech weapons; chase scenes and topped off with near superhuman ‘good’ and ‘bad guys.’ Typical of Hollywood-type action movies, the plot centers around preventing the bad guys from attaining global dominance. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, like another summer blockbuster, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, is one of many movies that promotes militarism and by extension imperialism.
The story opens with a weapons dealer, McCullen (later revealed as bad guy, Destro), showing off a new high-tech weapon, the Nanomite warhead. The weapon, loosely based on emerging technologies, is said to be able to destroy “any and all material in its path.” The first to procure this new weapon is the United States. The main protagonist, Duke, is charged with leading a NATO force to deliver four of the warheads. The audience is never challenged to ask why the U.S. wants or gets this weapon, let alone four of them, nor what would happen once it gets them. Instead the plot predictably begins when the warheads are stolen by the ‘bad guy’ Cobra force.
Unlike the G.I. Joe toys and cartoons, the new live-action G.I. Joe force is multinational, consisting of the “top men and women of the best military units of the world.” Prior to the theft of the Nanomite warheads, it is unclear what purpose such an elite military force might serve. The two male protagonists who join the G.I. Joe force after the start of the movie, Duke and Ripchord, seem more interested in running around in suits which give them superhuman strength and speed than serving any humanitarian or even patriotic ends. At the beginning of the movie, Ripchord expresses interest in joining the U.S. Airforce simply so he can pilot military jets.
As the movie develops, the G.I. Joe force must stop the Cobra from destroying Washington D.C., Bejing and Moscow. The leader of the Cobra force is the Cobra Commander, a former friend of Duke’s who wants to use the Nanomite technology to attain global power. The Cobra Commander is aided by Destro the weapons dealer, a small army of mind-controlled fearless soldiers, and the Baroness, a former love interest of Duke’s who is also mind-controlled throughout most of the movie.
In the real world, where both high-tech weapons capable of small and vast destruction and various elite, multinational, sometimes private military units exist, bad guys like the Cobras don’t. In the real world, millions of people die from starvation and malnutrition, not violent conspiracies to usurp global power. The system responsible for these deaths, imperialism, also creates conditions whereby oppressors join the military for the ‘thrill’ of using destructive weapons, flying fast and blowing things up. However, these people are not heroes.
Today, in the real world, most state militaries and elite multinational forces serve to maintain the imperialist system which starves millions. Taken out of the context of imperialism and global class systems, there is no need for elite military units. Action movies such as G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen create ridiculous fictional stories in which imperialist militaries are portrayed not as the protectors of global class structure, but as playing a positive role for humanity. ‘Ordinary,’ relatable characters such as Duke and Ripchord, who, in real life would play a mundane role in a profoundly awful system, are seen as both more significant and depoliticized: they’re “in the middle of the action” and supposedly saving the world. Amerikan and First World audiences, who are not routinely subjected to imperialist threats and aggression, might find themselves envious of such adventures and abilities. And whereas First World movie-goers, people who economically benefit from imperialist militarism, can’t join or cheer for the G.I. Joe force in real life, they conveniently can the U.S. military, NATO, Blackwater (now called Xe), the IDF and various other imperialist military organizations.
I-70 Expansion Plans Indicative of Wider Imperialist Parasitism
Discussions about expanding Interstate 70 in Colorado have been happening for nearly a decade now. Proponents have cited everything from the living standards of Coloradans, quantified by their ability to quickly traverse the state’s main East-West highway, to the economic incentive of drawing into the state more tourist and commercial transport dollars. Proponents also say the state’s growing population will hasten the need for highway expansion projects.
More recently, plans to expand I-70 east of I-25 in Denver have moved forward with the publishing of a draft study on the environmental and social impacts of various options. Amongst other things, the study considered not expanding anything, expanding other main East-West Denver thoroughfares, building a multi-level highway, building an underground highway, expanding I-70 at the sides and rerouting the part of the highway. The later two options are most favored by the study. The portion of I-70 proposed for expansion is elevated over neighborhoods heavily populated by nationally oppressed peoples. The portion of the highway is also filled with potholes and bad patch-up jobs and predicted to be a point of major traffic congestion over the next ten years.
Thus far, the most vocal critics of the highway expansion plans has been the local environmental group, High Country Earth First! (HCEF!). HCEF! cites ecological concerns and a general critique of Amerika’s consumer economy, as well as advocacy for the neighborhoods which would be affected most, amongst its primary criticisms of the highway expansion plan. According to HCEF!, any proposed highway expansion would contribute to problems such as urban sprawl, global warming, endangerment to local wildlife habitats and would negatively affect the surrounding nationally oppressed communities. According to HCEF!, the planned I-70 expansion “is part of the greater picture, one where poor people and communities of color are systemically oppressed by the state for the continued privilege of white people and the wealthy. Infrastructure expansion doesn’t meet the needs of underserved communities and only furthers their destruction. The I-70 expansion is no different; a low income community of color would be disrupted and displaced to serve the needs of a capitalist white supremacy.”
The Real Bigger Picture
While the proposed I-70 expansion occurs within the often obscured context of capitalist-imperialism, the cognitive reasons for the project, as noted by proponents and critics, are pretty clear cut: to bring more money into the state. Underlying these seemingly disconnected notions is the interconnected economics of it all.
Building a highway does not itself create value: portions of it will not be sold as a commodity in the form of a toll or user-fee. Rather, a highway expansion has one clear purpose, to better facilitate commerce, trade and private spending in the state. Whereas this added economic activity may inject billions of additional dollars into the state, this does not necessarily mean that such value was itself created within the state.
Under capitalism, value is created by labor engaged in the creation and distribution of commodities. Under capitalism, workers are only paid a portion of the value that was created and the capitalist keeps the rest. The situation today however is vastly more complicated.
Production and distribution is organized on a global scale and vast disparities exist between workers themselves. Nevertheless, value is still created by labor. The difference today is that whereas most of the world’s value is created in the Third World, it becomes realized and concentrated within the First. Thus, from the perspective of a single locality within the exploiter First World, anything that increases local commerce and economic activity in the area increases the realization of surplus value and the accumulation of capital.
Simply put, expanding I-70 will mean that more value created elsewhere will be channeled into the Colorado economy. The exploitative global relationship that is capitalist-imperialism makes the question of redundant and ecologically unsound infrastructure such as ever-increasing urban highways systems a realistic, even necessary one. Even truck drivers and highway construction workers, whose compensation places them in the richest 10% of the world, find themselves in positions of intersecting interest with the expansive system of imperialist parasitism.
Summing It Up
HCEF! gets it partially right when they say, “Infrastructure expansion doesn’t meet the needs of underserved communities and only furthers their destruction. The I-70 expansion is no different; a low income community of color would be disrupted and displaced to serve the needs of a capitalist white supremacy.”
HCEF! is right to frame the issue more as one of relative privilege than direct exploitation. Indeed, infrastructure expansion is meant to serve the general exploiter economy: one in which nationally oppressed peoples receive less opportunities and encounter more obstacles. For the most exploitative and oppressive sectors of Coloradan society, the damage done to the relatively least empowered, nationally oppressed communities is seen as a necessary consequence of increasing economic activity and thus the realization of value via this highway expansion project. Nevertheless, projects such as the proposed expansion of I-70, despite the damage it may cause to specific communities, should be seen for what it is: the expansion of imperialist parasitism within the Denver/Colorado area.
Demands for People Centered Infrastructure
Obviously not all infrastructure is bad. RAIM-Denver is hardly opposed to highways and roads on their own merits. In fact, a better regular distribution of food and medical supplies, which requires better road systems, and basic infrastructure such as water sanitation facilities and simply utilities are some of the basic demands of the world’s impoverished majority. While it is true that the natural capacity of the Earth could not allow the current mode and standard of living of Amerikans to be replicated the world over, this is more than anything else a reflection as to the depth of imperialist parasitism and the necessity of developing different productive and distributive arrangements in a new world.
As with imperialist parasitism itself, RAIM-Denver opposes any expansion of the I-70 highway system. Rather than continually expanding the material base for the realization of stolen wealth at this or that locality within the First World, RAIM-Denver demands that all resources for such projects instead be directed toward building life-saving and basic infrastructure, such that is centered around the creation of a more socially egalitarian and eco-centric organization of economic activity.
The proposed expansion of I-70 is merely symptomatic of a wider phenomenon of global exploitation and parasitism. In the end, only through destruction of this global imperialist paradigm will the idea of ever-expanding and destructive infrastructure projects, such as the proposed I-70 expansion, forever become of a remnant of a more primitive past. Only through the destruction of the modern capitalist-imperialist system can a fundamentally new world emerge.
“We want a better world. We want a world based on equality and mutuality. We envision a future in which the full potential of humanity is realized: one without unequal power relations and one of ecological harmony. Creating such a world is our common cause.” Such is the revolutionary refrain.
However pious the statements are, they stand disconnected from the world today: one full of inequality, oppression, coercion, violence, poverty and so on. If we really seek to create such a new, ‘utopian’ world, one thing is clear- we have a lot of work to do. Before we embark on this huge project, we need a plan or some sort of road map. Before we can chart a course towards the world we’d like to see, we must understand where we are now.
The world today is marked by extreme inequalities and stratification. The vast majority of people, around eighty percent, subsist on less than ten dollars a day. (1) Theirs is a world of poverty, toil and deprivation. Contrasted to this is a privileged minority noted for affluence, consumption and waste. Generally speaking, this social divide breaks down geographically: vast impoverishment being the norm of the ‘Third World’ and widespread affluence characteristic of the ‘First World.’
The scope and depth of this situation is unimaginable. In India alone, seven hundred million people live on less than two dollars dollars a day. (2) This is roughly equivalent to the entire English-speaking world. Around half of the world, about 3.5 billion people, live on less that $2.50 a day. (1) The human effects are devastating. For example, every year over 2 million people die of water born disease and every five seconds a child dies of starvation or malnutrition. (3) (4) All of these deaths are preventable: on a daily basis Amerikans alone have an average intake of 3,700 calories, throw away almost a third of their edible food and use 5.8 billion gallons of potable water just for toilets. (5) (6) (7)
The squalor of the of Third World and the squander of the First are directly related. Each world’s respective condition is the direct result of exploitation. The modern system of exploitation, whereby a global minority in a few rich countries lives at the expense of the impoverished global majority, is called imperialism. That is to say that in relation to the imperialist system and the Third World masses, those in the First World are beneficiaries of the former and a petty class of exploiters towards the latter.
Imperialism is currently the most widespread, fundamental form of oppression. This does not mean that other forms of oppression do not exist. Rather, imperialism is currently the dominant form of oppression: it touches the most people in the most fundamental way; it is the foremost determinant of life-options and class; and other forms of oppression are almost always negated, heightened, co-opted or superseded by imperialist exploitation. Imperialism drives social life today.
Attitudes and trends of thought, or ‘class consciousness,’ confirm this social reality. Whereas apathy and post modernism are common in the West, this is due to the lack of a functional need for a politically charged population. When First Worlders do express political views they are almost always supportive of imperialism. Mindless consumerism, a natural aspect of any society fattened on stolen wealth, is also a major phenomenon in the First World. On the other side of the social world, those in the Third World naturally resist their oppression. Radical Islam, the fastest growing social movement of the last thirty years, is in many regards an opposition movement against imperialism. This amalgamation of religion and anti-imperialism is no accident. Rather, it is evidence of two truths. First, the main social antagonism today is between the Third and First World. Second, oppression and resistance are inseparable.
Insofar as imperialism is the most fundamental form of oppression, resistance and revolutionary struggles are regular features in the Third World and at the margin. It is the Third World’s anti-imperialist struggle which is both the most widespread and common struggle amongst the global masses and by definition one against the core of global power. Containing amazing diversity, flaws and potential, the global anti-imperialist struggle is the struggle of the world’s exploited majority.
The anti-imperialist struggle is the modern day revolutionary struggle. The struggle of the global masses who are exploited by imperialism is of primary importance for those who seek a fundamentally better world: one that cannot freely evolve from the current one.
Anti-imperialist initiatives and revolutions in a single country or territory weakens the imperialist system as a whole and gives a new impetus for further, more widespread change. It is as part of the global fight against imperialism that the foundations for a new world are built and of this process itself from which further revolutionary potential emerges. In our period, the complete abolition of capitalism, patriarchy, youth oppression and other unequal structural relationships as well as arriving at a state of mutuality and ecological harmony are directly tied the destruction of the current order via anti-imperialist struggle.
For revolutionaries around the world the current task is to advance and support the ongoing struggle against imperialism as part of our radical vision of a world free from all oppression. Those revolutionaries in the First World, who owing to class composition are few and far between and separated from the struggle of the world’s exploited masses, naturally find this task daunting. Nevertheless, for all those who desire a new world, this is the struggle we must engage in.
No doubt, the path before us is long and arduous. However, the place to begin is here; the time to start is now.
U.S. Troop Injured by Philippine Rebel Group
On April 28th, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced that its military wing, the New People’s Army(NPA), injured a U.S. soldier embedded with the Philippine Army. According to the CPP, the Philippine Army attempted to encircle and attack a unit of the NPA, at which point the U.S. troop was injured, three Philippine state soldiers were killed and one NPA fighter was martyred. The New People’s Army, founded in 1969, has led South East Asia’s longest running insurgency. In 2002, both the CPP and the NPA were added onto the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The Philippines was one of the first overseas colonies of the United States. Today, U.S. imperialism rules through proxy governments. Though the U.S. has not operated military bases in the Philippines since 1991, U.S. troops are stationed in the country to augment the police powers of the comprador Philippine state. In 2008, the U.S. provided the Philippine state with 30 million dollars in military aid and admits to providing training, intelligence and consulting in its crusade against a number of insurgencies. While the U.S. claims its troops in the Philippines are limited to “humanitarian” roles, the CPP and independent NGOs have in the past stated that the United States is directly involved in military operations in the country.
More often than not, we are used to hearing about the U.S. military operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. This most recent incident sheds light on the fact that the U.S. military is used against peoples’ resistance even when it’s not widely publicized. The United States is not just involved in overthrowing recalcitrant governments; it also quietly supports its unpopular puppet-governments against the threat of homegrown insurgencies.
In an English-language statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines said it trusts that “the vast majority of the Amerikan people oppose U.S. participation in foreign civil wars,” and urged the “Amerikan people not to allow their government to continue with military interventionism, waste millions of taxpayers’ money and risk the lives of US soldiers in the Philippine civil war.”
In reality, the vast majority of Amerikans hardly oppose U.S. aggression and bullying. This is because they have historically benefited from imperialism and continue to until this day. While the U.S. military may be currently bogged down in other regions of the world, relying on a non-existence shared interest with “the vast majority” Amerikans or any meaningful support on their part is not a viable long term strategy in struggle of the Filipino masses against imperialism and lackey capitalism.
Imperialists are the real pirates
The Amerikan media is buzzing about pirates. In a recent incident, so-called “pirates” attempted to capture the cargo ship Maersk Alabama. According to mainstream reports, when the Somalis failed to take the ship, they fled the scene, taking the ship’s captain with them as a hostage to ransom later. Later, captain Phillips, an Amerikan, was freed by U$ Navy snipers who killed three of the Somalis and injured one other. The Somali version of events is much different than the one reported in the Amerikan media. According to Somali leader Abdi Garad, the Amerikans broke a truce agreement: “The American liars have killed our friends after they agreed to free the hostage without ransom.” (1)
The supposed “pirate menace” has provided Obama with a perfect, win-win situation. Obama was able to bloody his presidency in a low-risk engagement against a very weak enemy. Thus, Obama answered critics who claim that he is too soft. Even Obama’s usual critics are praising his action against the so-called pirate menace. Not surprisingly, the events of the past few days reveal that Obama is a run-of-the-mill imperialist. It is likely that the imperialists will use the excuse of “pirates” to increase their activity in Africa over the next decade.
Imperialists are the real pirates.
Firstly, the cargo ships that traverse the waters of the Somali coast are part of the imperialist system. They transport millions of dollars of stolen loot between the First and Third Worlds. The people of the Third World are completely justified in retrieving the wealth stolen from them.
Secondly, imperialist corporations have been destroying the Somali coastline with impunity since the early 1990s. According to Januna Ali Jama, a Somali spokesman, the actions of the Somali “pirates” are in response to “the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years.”
“The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas.”
These charges have been confirmed by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia. He stated that dumping and illegal fishing allegations have been made since the early 1990s.
Again dramatically confirming the imperialist crimes, the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) reported that rusted containers of toxic waste were found washed up on the Somali coastline after the 2004 tsunami. A UNEP spokesperson said that the containers were smashed open by the waves of the tsunami. The UNEP spokesperson said that the “frightening activity” of dumping had been going on for a decade. He stated that hundreds of Somali residents had become ill, suffering mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments due to the dumping.
“Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there,” he said.
“European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.”
“And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it.”
UN envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah confirmed the claims, “What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean.”
According to Mohammed Gure, chairman of the Somalia Concern Group, “The Somali coastline used to sustain hundreds of thousands of people, as a source of food and livelihoods. Now much of it is almost destroyed..” (2)
All this goes to show that the real pirate menace is imperialism. The imperialists have stolen an entire coastline from the Somali people. They have stolen their health and way of life. We wish the Somali people luck in redistributing wealth from the First to the Third World. We wish them luck in taxing the real pirates, the imperialists, who have stolen so much from them.
The following is reportedly a communique from the Iraqi resistance group, Rafidan, identified elsewhere on the internet as the Mujahideen Central Command. In the interest of giving a voice to those fighting the U.S. military on the ground, we are reposting it here. While leaving the political content intact, we edited out portions for the sake of brevity and corrected obvious grammatical mistranslations. Though the statement does contain some false political notions, it is lightyears ahead of the Amerikan ‘left.’ Thus, we are republishing it here, without further comment, allowing others may make their own judgment.
You have spoken to our people in part of your speech, and we thank you for these words, you have displayed a far better understanding our nation, than your predecessor, who preferred to dive deep into the oceans of illiteracy and ignorance. Despite the fact that you did not mention the Iraqi resistance in your speech, and chose to label us as terrorists along with those who arrived with your troops, we will set that aside for now, and mention a few facts for the record.
1- The people of Iraq whom you addressed, in all their sects colors and religions, refuse your occupation, and those who accept it, are those who benefit from it.
2- The Iraqis you addressed, as we truly hope, are not the ones who bathe in the riches of treason, behind your walls of the green zone; nor are they the likes of Ahmed Al Chalabi, whom your previous government conspired with […] from the dark alleys of 5 star hotels in the US and Europe prior to your occupation.
3- The Iraqi people you talked to, are those who never invited your occupation, and were trying their best to survive on what was possible, under the criminal sanctions that went on for 13 years only to be crowned with a foreign occupation, unmatched in criminal acts, in today’s modern world.
President Obama, the suffering that our people had to go through is beyond comprehension. And the endless crimes of your troops, as well as that of neighboring countries, cannot simply be undone or dismissed, nor can they be brushed under the carpet. Your troops still occupy the land and kill the innocent. That is why we can only address you as the president of an occupying nation.
The Iraqi People are disappointed in your plan. They expect your troops to leave our country in full and not in part. Our people seek a complete end of occupation and not the fulfillment of a strategic treaty that was rushed against the will of our people, in the last few days of your predecessor.
Our people, as well as the majority of people around the world, and in your country, want to see the last president [Bush] be presented to an international war crime tribunal for all the crimes he has committed in the name of your country, only to benefit those who brought him to power in the first place.
We have never invited your occupation, nor have we asked your country to steal our country’s resources to benefit your corporations and to those neighboring states which historically fall under your influence. We have never asked you for your precious blood or ours. To us, all blood is precious: even that of the your soldiers sent by your government to die not knowing what they were truly fighting for. This has to be addressed to the man who started this war, and is hiding now in Texas, while you try to undo his damage.
We the Iraqi People and their resistance demand the following:
1- The fulfillment of all the conditions presented to your government through the mediators you sent in 2006.
2- The hand over of all the traitors & collaborators in the green zone to the Iraqi people where they will be dealt with as any nation would do in cases of high treason.
3- The full & just compensation for our people for the losses they have suffered.
4- The halting of all compensations paid to those who fall under your umbrella in the region from the resources of our people.
5- The return of all land stolen from our country.
6- The departure of all foreign corporations mainly in the sectors of energy, communication, & infrastructure rebuilding, specifically those linked to Neocon interests. Our people are more than qualified to rebuild and operate our institutions.
7- The hand over of all mercenaries accused of killing innocent civilians mainly security contractors in Black Water and their CEO to be tried for murder.
8- All foreign advisors are to leave Iraq with your troops.
9- The dismantling of all militias equipped by your country and Iran together to shift the nature of battle towards the sectarian nature in order to allow your troops to concentrate on the major resistance activities in the central region of Iraq.
10- The halting of all support to the sectarian government elected in the orchestrated elections in the green zone.
11- The reduction of the influence of your Persian allies in Iraq which your previous government worked with in close conjunction and who continue to fund Al Qaeda on behalf of your intelligence agency’s behalf.
12- The return to the old constitution of a unified Iraq. And the Upholding of new elections within 6 months of the resistance taking power of the nation. This will be supervised, but must be conducted in the presence of a number of credible international monitors. Not the ones sponsored by the CIA.
13- Cities and provinces are to be handed over one by one starting with the four main cities and airports of Baghdad, Basra, then Mosul and Kirkuk in the same order. The rest will fall immediately in our hands. The borders will have other arrangements.
The list goes on, but the intention is to give you an idea of what we pledged our people to achieve. In return for our people’s demands, we will cease to attack all occupation forces withdrawing to the south and beyond the border post of Safwan.
Without these straightforward moves on your part, we regret to inform you that the resistance of the people of Iraq will continue until that last boot of US/British/Persian occupation is thrown across the borders of our country.
There are those who will claim, that a quick withdrawal from Iraq will cause civil war, and that is a possibility. But we would also like to clarify that the forces of the puppet government which has been equipped to defeat the resistance will not stand ground, nor will they block our efforts to liberate our cities one by one if we have to. And all the efforts of your collaborators to move to the north and south of the country and create their own federal states have been studied well for their weaknesses and will be crushed within a short period. This is a more realistic scenario. True there will be still the Persian occupation which will offer it’s militias support, but we know that the US cannot leave the oil rich south to be occupied by Iran, and they would rather see it fall in our hands instead. As it would be giving too much to a close yet not so trust worthy ally, and would deprive your military necessary funds that would support long-term military presence necessary in Iraq and throughout the region. Funds that some in your government think they can still rely on. Funds that your economy can no longer bear in the midst of the turmoil in the globalized economy of your nation, to control the world.
The Iraqi resistance understands well that the US could not continue to sell oil at a high price of 120 USD/barrel to cover the costs of it’s war, as this strengthens old adversaries. And it would be only a matter of time before this tactic backfires on the US foreign policy. But it also understands that the US cannot fund foreign occupation any more without depending on local resources and revenues to cover the expenses. This is the true cause of the change of “strategy” as you named it President Obama.
With oil prices falling to their true realistic market values, & the winter ending in the consuming economies, the oil prices should fall to 30 USD plus mark, which is also effecting the local economies of your allies in the region, as anything below 55 USD per barrel, is already becoming a burden on these economies, which in turn can no longer assist to their full potential in funding and supporting the costs of US aggression in the region.
The declining of oil revenues, which we truly thank you for mentioning in your speech, will make it more difficult to fund your military’s operations in Iraq, and that is why the numbers of your troops is to be reduced. To match the income predicted from the oil projects sponsored by your corporations in the south and the oil theft operations run by your agent, Hamid Jaffar in the north of Iraq in collaboration with NGO oil of Norway, is what your strategists think is possible.
Yes President Obama, we do agree with you, that the US needs a smarter, more sustainable & comprehensive approach, but rest assured, that what your predecessor has failed to achieve with all the military might at his disposal, we will make sure that you will fail to achieve the same goals through the soft hand of the Democratic party.
In fact, it is more logical and practical to follow the alternative energy programs that you have set wisely, to ensure the non reliance of your economy on oil as well as the utilization of advancements and added fruits of R&D to employ the unemployed, and support a new and young market for the shift in energy dependence, and in turn end the monopolization of energy, practiced by the corporations that control it and control world political and social stability, than to merely dream of expecting the Iraqi People to hand you over their resources.
We on the other hand intend to nationalize and use our resources to build an alternative energy base our selves and offer our people a life of prosperity, & stability, as well as supporting the energy transition of other nations that are oil dependant, a task we truly believe is noble and worthwhile.
The Iraqi Resistance will not accept any short term or long term energy contracts with the US until we ensure that the rights of our people are properly addressed. And within the parameters of relations based on mutual respect first and mutual interests second.
President Obama, It is time that people in Washington understand that there are no shared interest between an occupying tyrant and an oppressed victim of occupation.
Your government would have stayed forever in Iraq if the traitors who conspired with your consecutive administrations had their way in starving the Iraqi people into submission and force them to welcome your occupying troops with flowers as Chalabi promised you. But after three wars and over a decade of sanctions, there were enough honest men to defeat the world’s most powerful army & play a major role in destroying the most imperialistic globalized economy ever developed by expansionary capitalism.
These are the type of people you are speaking to Mr. Obama. And if you were not presented with this reality throughout the briefings that occurred, and understood the true scale of the economic disaster with all the social and geopolitical implications of your military defeat in Iraq, then please allow us to mention a few of the major achievements that the Iraqi Resistance have promised its people and the free people of the world and has delivered:
1- We promised to pin down your troops in Iraq and drain your economy until you admit defeat and withdraw your troops. And this we fulfilled.
2- We promised to halt the US plan for Middle East in full, and prevent the loss of other innocent lives in other neighboring countries, and that we fulfilled.
3- We embraced the war and continue the fight on behalf of all the oppressed world, which not only stood still and watched the massacre of our people and the illegal occupation of our nation, but many of its leaders participated and continue in harming our people inside and outside Iraq and assist in the theft of our resources. This, apart from the support of honest people all around the world,
4- Including citizens of your country, who marched day and night to support the cause of Iraq’s right to resist, marches that defied the weather, and weathered criminal defiance and ignorance of world politicians. Marches that we will ever be indebt to, and in gratitude & in appreciation for. May god bless those people wherever they are. And this we fulfilled and continue to do so.
5- We have understood the nature of international balances of power and most importantly predicted the primitive mind of the occupation and played a major role in forcing the US to increase oil prices in clear desperation for cash. And use that to allow other powers to recover. And the numbers never lied, this we also fulfilled.
6- The Iraqi People wrote a new chapter in Urban warfare, and invented the art of remote combat, and in turn gave the world lessons and set a new standard in how to defeat the world’s most powerful army. In this, the most dangerous achievement that threatens US global influence is that all the oppressed people who suffer from negative US influence, can use this experience to free themselves as well. This also has been delivered.
7- The Resistance has already drafted its 2, 5 and 10 year plan to engage Iraq in rebuilding programs that will set a new standard for development in the region and restore Iraq to its rightfully earned place in world politics and positive human development. This while maintaining Iraq’s isolation from harmful neighboring countries at the same time, these plans was prepared and drafted in the early months of 2007 and are ready to implement once we see the end of your occupation.
8- The resistance created a new battle field and utilized every tool available to break free of the corporate media and tell, inform, and educate the world of the true nature of the struggle, and present every curious man and woman daily reports and videos of your military’s defeat and in every language possible. People from all over the world, chose out of their own free will and time, people of different religions and backgrounds chose to be soldiers of the cyber wars and translated all what we had to tell, asking nothing in return but the truth. The true casualties of your war are yet to be declared. (We refer to the green card soldiers)
9- The resistance has sparked not only the collapse of the US economy, but also caused the domino effect and the destruction of your fine tuned and delicate globalized economy, and forced the return to national economic protection, and the rights of local and regional economies to grow and ensure a decent life and practice their right to develop as well. All your efforts to restore the globalized economy will deliver nothing of value, and puppet governments that maintain your oversight of world resources will eventually fall, one after the other, as their faults will be more evident to their average citizens. That is why you are now receiving daily reports from the CIA about the world economy.
All the above, and you still choose to ignore the resistance of the Iraqi people and the resistance of the global alliance of the free, which we intend to propose to the world as the next stage of the freeing of the planet from your dominance when the time is right!
All this said, and the global media which you still maintain control over still labels free people as terrorists and equates the resistance of occupation with criminal acts of striking civilians in building and terrorizing the lives of the innocent!
Truly ironic! Nevertheless representative of the true state of shock your policy makers have reached. But all can be reversed if you truly believe in change Mr. President.
The resistance along with the votes of the peace loving people in your country and choice of the world who brought you to power, are more than capable to pull you down and defeat your new strategy, if you choose to lie to them and follow the plans of your predecessor.
You must understand that the time when your foreign policy bullied and bribed people into submission is over and for a considerable time. And your politicians and strategists have to understand that to be accepted as a superpower you must first learn to speak to the world with modesty and respect that others in this planet, also have the right to provide for their families a decent life, the right to food and water, the right to education and knowledge, the right to industry and employment, and free from your corporate despotism.
We in the Iraqi resistance, renew our pledge to our people and to our brothers and sisters in the global family to continue the fight and struggle to free Iraq- and give our allies the chance to follow suite.
While you were preparing your new strategy in leaving the streets and highways of Iraq to your collaborators, and hiding your troops behind the walls of the castles and green zones you’ve prepared for your minimized long term presence, we’ve been preparing to address your new tactics and will deal with them in the proper manner.
Remember; hiding behind and holding castles is no longer sustainable in modern warfare!
Your finest fighting force as you name it, is up against the most witty, resilient & innovative self-propelled resistance honorable humanity has ever presented. Rest assured that we are not impressed with your plan and will follow your movements on the ground and cross examine them to your declared intentions and daily economic reports. There is no such thing as friendly occupation, and we advise you to revise your plans to vacate Iraq at a time suitable for our people and not suitable for your agents in the green zone.
Obama Signs Stimulus Bill, Escalates War in Afghanistan
As part of a country-wide tour, Barack Obama arrived in Denver to sign the 787 billion dollar “economic stimulus package.” The bill was signed at a private media event held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Obama sycophant Governor Bill Ritter laughably described the event as “historic.”
The event was used to pimp Blake Jones, President of the Denver based Namaste Solar Energy Inc. The Obama-backed package includes provisions for renewable energy and “green jobs,” topics at the forefront of the media spectacle. For his part Jones didn’t skip a beat when it came to hopping on the “green” social-fascist bandwagon:
“And we’re at a crossroads. We cannot afford to be left behind. We must seize this opportunity to make sure that United States takes a leadership position in this movement.”
And, “…with every green job we create, our nation takes one step closer toward achieving energy independence, strengthening national security, bolstering the economy, protecting the environment and improving public health, all [at] the same time.”
Though Obama’s speech was mostly rosy rhetoric designed to make Amerikans feel good about themselves, he made sure to qualify this happiness by saying, “…we know we can’t power America’s future on energy that’s controlled by foreign dictators.” What Obama is really saying is that Amerika can’t rely on oil and other resources that are subject to the increasingly revolutionary Third World masses.
Obama’s real economic stimulus package was announced the next day: an escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Before any bridges get built, 17,000 troops will be joining the already 33,000 stationed in the war torn country. The domestic solar panel industry notwithstanding, the real engine of the U.S. economy is the exploitation of the Third World.
Both of Obama’s efforts, the so called “economic stimulus package” and his blatant escalation in Afghanistan, will do little to help Amerika in the long run. Be it 50,000 or 100,000 troops, the people of Afghanistan will continue to resist. This latest escalation will only lead to increased tension in Pakistan and throughout the Middle East. Furthermore, any aggressive action by U.S. imperialism is met by politicization and resistance the world over. Two days after Obama announced the escalation, the President of Kyrgyzstan signed a bill giving the U.S. 180 days to vacate the Manas airbase. Currently transporting 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo a month to and from Afghanistan, Manas is the U.S.’s only airbase in Central Asia. For all its mighty desperation, U.S. imperialism will be increasingly burned by fires provoked through its own actions.
Thought we’d take some time to review an interesting Colorado blog.
Not My Tribe is a lefty Colorado Springs-based political blog. RAIM ran into some of their writers during the DNC organizing meetings, as they were strong supporters of Recreate 68. Their politics is something we do not totally agree on, as they espouse much labor aristocracy ideologies, as do most of the First World Left. Nevertheless they do provide a good news source, and do come down more on the side of the Third World.
One recent article is by Marie Walden, titled The Advent Conspiracy. (Advent has something to do with the birth of Christ or the four Sundays before Christmas, or a coming arrival in general. Yeah, had to look it up.) It deals with a Christian based charitable group that provides wells in the Third World.
The Advent conspiracy
By Marie Walden
NOT MY TRIBE – 12/13/2008 2:05PM MDT
Consumerism allows people to create the illusion of giving without having to sacrifice anything personal. Buying loads of useless or unneeded crap, wrapping it up in mountains of toxic paper and ribbon, presenting it, often by mail, to recipients we rarely see seems a requirement for anyone who isn’t Scrooge.
Let’s try something new. Give presence this holiday season. Give time and attention, spend creative energy, become less fractured and manic, more unified and peaceful. Refuse to spend your useless gift quota ($450,000,000,000 spent each year in the U.S. divided by the American gift-buying population — that’s your required outlay). Donate part of the money saved to Living Water International,(www.water.cc) an organization working to provide water wells to undeveloped countries.
A lack of clean water is the leading cause of death in under-resourced countries. 1.8 million people die annually from water-born illnesses, nearly 4,000 children every DAY. It’s estimated that $10 billion would solve the world’s fresh-water crisis. $10 billion. Our national priorities are beyond fucked up.
The $450 billion figure is from the Living Water International site, which in turn cites a press release from the National Retail Federation.
A cursory look at the Website of Living Water International shows it as a Christian charitable organization. We don’t quite advocate money going to this organization without further investigation, but this description does raise warning flags with us, as there is a history of first world charitable groups, especially Christian ones, aiding imperialist interests instead of those it says it is serving.
A look at these numbers show, contrary to what the author says, the Amerikan nation’s priorities are not “fucked up,” but logically follows the reasons for Amerika’s existence. The billions Amerikans will spend on consumer crap in the annual economic stimulus ritual called Christmas is stolen from poor people in the oppressed and exploited countries of the Third World. Amerikans don’t give a damn that less than 2.2 percent of what it spends on Christmas can given clean water to billions of people, they want their stuff.
We call on the Third World to take back what is theirs from these thieving Amerikans. Despite the worldwide economic crisis, Amerikans are still better off while others starve. Those few inside Amerika who stand with humanity should know who they need to side with. It’s time to turn this world upside down.
Television reporter Muntadar al-Zaidi, 29, gained instant fame for throwing his shoes at President Bush at a news conference, nearly hitting him, temporarily wiping that stupid grin off his face, and giving a powerful symbolic view of Iraqi anger toward the occupying nation that killed over 2 million of its citizens.
Al-Zaidi was subsequently arrested and tortured. He recently appeared before a judge in the Green Zone in occupied Baghdad. He faces up to seven years in jail for “offending the head of a foreign state.” (1).
This event has inspired similar resistance inside Iraq:
“In a solidarity demonstration on Wednesday in the western city of Fallujah, a former insurgent stronghold, students hurled shoes at US marines at a local business school.
One student was hit by gunfire in the leg, an AFP journalist at the scene said. It was unclear who fired the shot.
“About 200 people gathered outside the Fallujah Business School,” the US military said in a statement.
“The crowd began throwing rocks, sticks and shoes at coalition forces who were at the school for conducting a planned Economic Development-Education Development engagement with the dean,” it said.
“While leaving the school, the coalition forces heard a gunshot. They did not see who fired the shot and continued to leave the school.”(2).
We at RAIMD say: right the fuck on to al-Zaidi and the entire Iraqi resistance. Many Amerikan flag-waving bumblefucks have told us that because of the surge the United Snakes is winning in Iraq. As if occupying people would ever submit to imperialist invasion, the struggle will continue! We salute the resistance by the Iraqi people against the United States and its comprador bootlicking Iraqi government. Free Al-Zaidi!
(1). “Bush shoe-thrower appears before judge again.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/12/18/2449685.htm
This video speaks for itself.
Your Playstation Has Real Blood On It
There has been recent interest in the news lately on a report by the liberal activist group Toward Freedom around what has been dubbed the “Playstation War.” It describes how the demand for a key metal used in the Sony Playstation 2 video game console was a driving force in the ongoing wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Stories about the demand for this metal, called coltan, and the wars behind it in sub-Saharan Africa, are nothing new (1). What is new about this report is that it links one specific consumer product to this conflict.
The Playstation video game console, like others on the market, is solely used for leisure and entertainment. Priced for hundreds of dollars and purchased by consumers in Amerika and other First World nations, the Playstation is a byproduct of the leisure time and disposable income available to Amerikans. Along with the console itself there are thousands of video games that are made for it, along with fan magazines and websites. According to the Entertainment Software Association video game sales reached $9.5 billion in 2007, and tens of thousands of people are employed in this industry to meet consumer demands (2). The indirect economics in terms of research and development, sales, advertising, and marketing are also vast. Video games are just one byproduct of imperialist parasitism, and in the case of the Playstation it is a direct contributor to war and suffering.
Imperialism is a system based upon exploitation and war. The production cycle of the Playstation illustrates the rabid bloodshed and exploitation imperialism brings, and the parasitism that it feeds in the core imperialist nations.
The African World War and the Playstation
The conflict known as Africa’s World War has involved eight nations and over 25 militias. It has killed and displaced millions of people over a ten year period, and its effects still linger today. According to Toward Freedom, this war also became known as the Playstation War. They state:
“The name came about because of a black metallic ore called coltan. Extensive evidence shows that during the war hundreds of millions of dollars worth of coltan was stolen from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The UN and several NGOs claim some of the most active thieves were the Rwandan military, several militias supported by the Rwandan government, and also a number of western-based mining companies, metal brokers, and metal processors that had allegedly partnered with these Rwandan factions…. And while allegations of plundering coltan from a nation in desperate need of revenue seem bad enough, the UN also discovered that Rwandan troops and rebels were using prisoners-of-war and children to mine for the “black gold.”
“Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms,” said British politician Oona King, who was a Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2005.”(3).
Coltan is used to make the metal tantalum, which in turn is used to make capacitors for tiny electronic devices. Up to eighty percent of the world’s coltan reserves lie in the DRC (4). Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of this metal has been stolen from the DRC during this war in order to satisfy the growing demand for electronic items like cell phones, laptops, I-Pods, and video games.
The report links the demand for the Playstation in 2000 to a spike in the price of coltan. At the same time the Rwandan military and its allied militias forcefully took over land in DRC that had coltan mines. A United Nations investigation alleged Western mining companies:
“…directly and indirectly fueled the war, paralyzing the DRC government, and [used] the conflict to keep the coltan flowing cheaply out of the Congo. Some companies were also accused by the UN of aligning with elements of the warring parties.”
Toward Freedom further states:
“David Barouski, a researcher and journalist from Wisconsin, says it is certain that the coltan from this conflict is also in SONY video game consoles across the world. ‘Sony’s PlayStation 2 launch (spring of 2000) was a big part of the huge increase in demand for coltan that began in early 1999,’ said Barouski, who has witnessed the chaos of eastern DRC firsthand.”
Sony of course engages in plausible deniability, saying it cannot really know where everything it manufactures comes from. Really, gee whiz.
Congo’s Long History of Meddling Imperialists
The DRC has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, despite being so rich in mineral resources. The cause of this contradiction is its long history of being a victim of imperialist intervention. It has long been a site of theft, plunder, and murder by U.$. and Western imperialism. It was once known as the Belgian Congo, named after its former colonial strangler. It achieved independence from Belgium in 1961. Its first leader after independence was Patrice Lumumba, who described 80 years of colonial oppression as a “humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force” (5). Lumumba, a national leader too independent for U.$. imperial interests, became a victim of an assassination orchestrated by the CIA and Belgian intelligence shortly after he took power. He was replaced by a subservient kleptocracy led by Gen. Joseph Mobutu, head of the national army. Mobutu and his cronies went on to steal billions from the nation he renamed Zaire, while starving millions of its citizens. Mobutu also allowed the CIA free use of the country as a proxy to destabilize the rest of the region for U.$. interests against the USSR during the Cold War.
After the Cold War ended Mobutu was of no use to the imperialists, and was finally overthrown in 1997. His replacement also became a pawn of the imperialists. The nation, renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo, was led by president Kabila, who made deals with Western and Amerikan mining companies for access to its valuable mines. He had the backing of neighboring armies who wanted in on its resources. The five-year war that officially ended in 2003 was known as the African World War, the deadliest war since World War II. So far over 5 million people have died as a result. This is just one symptom of the long legacy of imperialism in this region.
Who Plays, Who Works? Electronic Sweatshops
Like almost all consumer products, the Playstation and other electronics are manufactured in Third World sweatshops that take advantage of cheap labor and few regulations.
News reports state that Sony is contracting with Foxcomm, a Taiwanese contractor with factories based in China, to build their new Playstation 3 (6). Other reports about Foxcomm factories that assembled the iPods give an indication of the conditions that these toys are made in. One factory in China has 200,000 workers, and advertises for workers over age 16 (7):
“Inside Longhua, workers labor a 15-hour day building iPods, for which they usually earn about $50 per month. When they’re not on the assembly lines, they live in secluded dormitories that each house 100 people and prohibit visitors from the outside world. The workers are allowed ‘a few possessions; and a ‘bucket to wash their clothes.’”
From one worker:
” ‘We have to work too hard and I am always tired. It’s like being in the army,’ Zang Lan, one of the workers at Longhua, told the Mail. ‘They make us stand still for hours. If we move we are punished by being made to stand still for longer. The boys are made to do pushups.’ ”
The report states the iPod Nano is assembled in a five-story factory that is secured by armed police officers. The super-slim digital music player is said to include over 400 parts which arrive from component manufacturers all over the world (8).
Another factory in Suzhou, Shanghai that manufactures iPod shuffles is completely surrounded by barbed wire. The workers take home $99 a month, with half of that income going to food and shelter. The factory advertises for women workers, because it considers them more honest. China, now under capitalist imperialist exploitation, is touted for its “low wages, long hours and industrial secrecy, [making] the country attractive to business, especially as increased competition and consumer expectations force companies to deliver products at lower prices (9).”
The End Game
“Amerikan imperialism takes the products created by the exploited labor of the Third World and passes it off to Amerika’s aristocratic ‘workers.’ From here, Amerikan ‘workers’ are overpaid to basically tinker around with the products before they are sold. In turn, Amerikan ‘workers’ use their inflated wages to buy these products, thus making possible the final realization of profit for the overall system. In this manner, Amerika uses global exploitation to keep its domestic mall economy afloat and enable its existence as an entire nation of parasites.”
-Parasitism: The Economics of Imperialism (RAIMD) (10)
Amerika’s economy is a service economy. The wealth of this country comes from the exploitation of resources and labor from outside of its borders, all so Amerikans can live overly comfortable lives. The Playstation is no exception. Millions have died and billions suffer for your entertainment. The world’s majority won’t stand for it for too much longer.
Amerikan imperialism will lose in the end. So join with the world’s oppressed majority and become a revolutionary anti-imperialist. It’ll be more fun than your Playstation anyway!
3). Lasker, John. “Inside Africa’s Playstation War.” Toward Freedom, July 08, 2008. http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1352/1. All info on the DRC and Playstations, except noted, is from the Toward Freedom article.
The following is an excerpt from a essay titled The Socialist Project in a Disintegrated Capitalist World, written by Greek writer Arghiri Emmanuel in 1976.
The North-South division
It is largely accepted today that development and under-development are not autonomous and juxtaposed phenomena which can be examined each within its own terms, but that they are phenomena organically and functionally interrelated.
That is a common place. What is less familiar is the observation that not only is development of the periphery blocked by the very existence of the center, and the growth of the center reinforced by the resources drawn from the periphery, but that this center is today over-developed to the very same extent that the periphery is under-developed.
What can this over or under-development be measured against? It may be measured in relation to the level of development which the existing economic system, in this case the capitalist mode of production, can, under present historical conditions, secure at the level of the whole of mankind.
This means that the United States can be the United States and Sweden can be Sweden only because others, that is, the two billion inhabitants of the Third World, are not.
This also means that every material equalization from the top down is excluded. If, by some miracle, a socialist and fraternal system, regardless of its type or model, were introduced tomorrow morning the world over, and if it wanted to integrate, to homogenize mankind by equalizing living standards, then to do this it would not only have to expropriate the capitalists of the entire world, but also dispossess large sections of the working class of the industrialized countries, of the amount of surplus value these sections appropriate today. It seems this is reason enough for these working classes not to desire this ‘socialist and fraternal’ system and to express their opposition by either openly integrating into the existing system, as in the United States of America or the Federal Republic of Germany, or by advocating national paths to socialism, as in France or Italy.
This is not a question of principles, but a question of interests. A few global figures will be enough to show this. In 1973, the average annual wage in the USA amounted to around US$10,500. The population of the entire capitalist world at that time was about 2.6 billion, and there was a little over a billion economically active. To pay all these economically active people on an American scale would require close to eleven trillion dollars. However, the total national income of these countries in 1973 amounted to only $2.7 trillion.
This means, even if all income earned without the counterparts of labor, profits, rents, interest rates, etc., (which are all components of surplus value) were abolished and mankind resolved to be satisfied from now on with simple reproduction, relinquishing all progress and consuming its entire product, it would not, under these hypothetical conditions, be able to reach more than an average wage of $2,500 per year, that is, a quarter of the American wage.
It is precisely this that severs solidarity between the working classes of the center and the periphery. While all the working classes were subjected to exploitation, no matter how disparate its degree, even when one was 90% exploited and the other 10%, they had an interest in uniting and fighting arm-in-arm, and together expropriating their exploiters, despite the fact that this expropriation improved the situation for some considerably more than for others. But from the moment the workers of certain countries ceased to be the suppliers of surplus value (no matter how little) and became recipients, the situation was reversed and the positions of the working classes became antagonistic to one another.
It might be maintained that this comparison in terms of dollars or surplus value rates is too abstract and illusory. I will suggest another, in physical terms. Today, the citizen of America consumes an extraordinary amount of basic raw materials. Were all the inhabitants of this planet to follow his example and consume the same amount per person, all known deposits of iron ore would be exhausted in forty years, copper deposits in eight years, tin deposits in six years, and petroleum in five and a half years!
However, exhaustion of deposits and reserves is not the only factor that prevents world equalization from above. Ecological limits represent another.
If today’s developed countries can still rid themselves of their wastes by dumping them into the sea or the air, this is so because they are the only ones doing it; similarly, if their citizens can still travel by plane without great difficulty, that is because others have not the means to fly and leave them the privilege of clogging the skies, etc., etc.
These calculations involve no unsubstantial and slippery concepts such as surplus value, capital, etc., or such computable categories as profit, interest rates, etc., but of the consumption of palpable materials. Hence, it is the great mass of the population, the wage-workers themselves who are involved.
It follows from this that apart from all other considerations and all other antagonisms, under today’s objective natural and technological conditions, and in the foreseeable future, the people of today’s rich countries can consume all the things that make up their material well-being and which they seem to value, only because others use them either very little or not at all. They can reprocess their wastes simply because others have nothing much to reprocess. Otherwise, the ecological balance would be fatally imperiled.
This is what makes the antagonism between the center and the periphery irresolvable and transforms the entire working class of certain countries into the worker aristocracy of the earth.
”The Socialist Project in a Disintegrated Capitalist World” by Arghiri Emmanuel. From Socialist Thought and Practice : A Yugoslav Monthly, vol. 16, no. 9, 1976, pp. 69-87.
Here’s a teaser:
Watch the above video and listen to this limey (thats an Engli$h Cracker) fuck cream his jeans as he watches his comrades brutally beat a group of Iraqi kids.
Watch this cracker whine that he isn’t allowed to murder Iraqi kids for throwing rocks at his pig ass.
Listen carefully for the kid shouting “fuck you!” We are proud of you little RAIMer, keep it up!